West Ham midfielder Declan Rice announced on Wednesday that he has decided to submit a written request to FIFA for the transfer of his international registration from Ireland to England.
The highly rated 20-year-old was born in London but qualified for Ireland via paternal grandparents and after playing at youth level went on to make three senior appearances, all in friendly matches.
However, after breaking into the West Ham first team and becoming a regular in Manuel Pellegrini’s side this season, Rice has chosen to switch his allegiance to England.
“This afternoon I telephoned both (Ireland manager) Mick McCarthy and (England boss) Gareth Southgate to inform them of my decision to submit a written request to FIFA for the transfer of my international registration from the Republic of Ireland to England,” Rice said in a long statement on his Twitter account.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision and, in all honesty, not one I ever expected to be making at this stage of my career. So much has happened, so quickly, in the past couple of years.”
Rice said he considered himself to be of mixed nationality.
“I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection,” he said. “Particularly not for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position.
“Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”
“My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was always 100 percent genuine,” he added. “It was a great honour for myself and my family, and something I will always cherish.”
The Football Association of Ireland confirmed that Rice had opted to purse his international career with England.
“Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England,” said McCarthy. “Good luck to him.”