Declan Rice on silencing England doubters against Iran: “We wanted to prove people wrong”

Declan Rice England
(Image credit: Getty Images)

England midfielder Declan Rice was delighted to be able to prove the doubters wrong after the Three Lions began their World Cup campaign in style by thrashing Iran.

Rice started in midfield in Monday’s 6-2 victory over Carlos Queiroz’s side, the biggest win of the tournament so far.

The confident manner of the victory, and terrific performances from the likes of Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham, helped ease any nerves about the health of the national team after they headed to Qatar on a six-match winless run.

But any pre-tournament criticism only stoked the determination of the England players, according to Rice.

"There were doubts about us before the tournament. We wanted to prove a lot of people wrong," said the West Ham captain.

"There has been a lot of talk about us not winning in our last six matches. By our standards, with the players we have got, we know that it hasn't been good enough.

"But this was a World Cup stage and you could see there was a fire in our bellies.”

England sit alone on top of Group B after the first round, following the 1-1 draw between the USA and Wales in the other game.

Next up is a clash with the United States on Friday, and Rice made sure to point out that the significance of such a handsome win over the Iranians shouldn’t be downplayed.

"People will say, 'It's only Iran', but they have had some good results at past World Cups. In September they beat Uruguay and drew with Senegal,” Rice said.

"It was a real positive performance, but we can't get too ahead of ourselves. It's the USA next and they are going to be another level up. First game, first win. We can't ask for any more."

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