England's Declan Rice named Irish young player of the year

Tue, Mar 12 2019

Rice in action for Ireland under-21s against Azerbaijan last year. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Declan Rice will be named young player of the year at the Three FAI International Awards on Sunday night despite declaring his allegiance to England last month.

The 20-year-old made three appearances for the senior Republic of Ireland side during 2018 before opting to switch to his country of birth last month.

Rice was named man of the match in all three of his appearances, against Turkey in March and against France and the United States in June.

The West Ham United midfielder is tipped to receive his first call-up for his new country for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro this month.

He will do so as the reigning Ireland young player of the year after the association confirmed the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland vote, made before his international u-turn, will stand.

It’s not the first time the association has been left red-faced with awards – Jack Grealish accepted the under-21 player of the year shortly before changing allegiance to England in 2015.

Rice will, at least, spare Irish football fans the added indignity of accepting the award – the association confirmed he won’t be in attendance at the event on Sunday.

“The Football Association of Ireland can confirm that West Ham United's Declan Rice has won the Young Player Of the Year award at the 29th '3' FAI International Awards taking place on Sunday, March 17,” read an association statement.

“The award was voted for by members of the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland.

“At the time of the vote, Declan Rice was an Ireland international and qualified for the Young Player category in a year that saw him win three senior caps, all in '3' International Friendly games.

“Declan Rice has since opted to switch his allegiance to England. The FAI has completed his international transfer via the FIFA protocols and wishes him well in the future.

“This award maintains the integrity of the voting process in conjunction with the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland and the FAI thanks the jury members for their decisions relating to the awards.

“Declan Rice will not be in Dublin for the '3' FAI International Awards ceremony, which will be live on RTÉ2 from 20:30.”