West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has responded when asked about what he thought of the criticism from some quarters regarding his decision to pledge his international allegiance to England rather than the Republic of Ireland.
The highly rated 20-year-old was born in London, but played for the Irish at youth level as well as in three senior games, but as they were friendlies, he could still switch to play for England, as he has done.
In early March, Sky Sports News confirmed that FIFA had ratified Rice's switch of international allegiance ahead of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
The versatile youngster, who can play both in midfield and in defence, featured in both of those games and is in line to take part in the Three Lions' upcoming UEFA Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands, a year on from Gareth Southgate's charges reaching the last four of the World Cup.
Rice's response to the fallout from his saga, in conversation with Goal.com, is bound to be music to the ears of both West Ham and England fans, highlighting his maturity, thick skin and ability to focus solely on football - for club and for country - amid the potential of other distractions.
"Most people would have thought that was tough to take on, with loads of papers in Ireland writing about me and Irish players speaking about me," said Rice.
"But it is always going to blow over and I am so laid-back, I do not really take much notice of it. I am just focused on what I have got to do for club and country. I have had to be mentally strong and I have been like that since I was a kid."
Rice, who signed a long-term contract at West Ham just before the end of 2018 (official club website) and is reported by the Irish Independent to be valued at £50million, made 38 appearances in all competitions for the East London side this term just gone according to Transfermarkt.
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