Skip to main content

Souness claims Rice was coerced into picking England: “Every sentence is covering his backside”

Declan Rice

The West Ham midfielder announced in a statement on Wednesday that he was committing his future to the English national team, despite representing the Irish across various youth levels and in three senior friendly matches.

Former Scotland and Liverpool midfielder Souness was not impressed by the decision, which he believes was made due to the influence of advisors looking to make the 20-year-old a more valuable commodity.

“When you go and play for your country you get caught up in it, the national anthem, you’re proud to wear that shirt with the badge on it,” he told Virgin Media Sport.

“I would’ve found it very hard if I had gone down that road, where I’d played youth football and then a friendly, to walk out. I don’t think me, as a person, would have done that.

“I look at that statement, which has been drafted by a lawyer or a PR consultant, and it just oozes that his advisors are telling him ‘for you to fully cash in on your career over the next 10-12 years, you’re far better being an English international, you’re more valuable to whoever is interested if you’re wearing an English shirt than an Irish shirt’. And that’s how I see it.

“I don’t see those words being drafted by the player himself. Every statement, every sentence is covering his backside about not trying to upset anyone.

“I think he will have been coerced into making that choice. I think someone had a big influence on him.”

Rice could earn his first England cap next month when England take on the Czech Republic and Montenegro to open their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.