Opinion: Declan Rice can become a West Ham great

After being released by Chelsea four years ago, the defender has since shown he has what it takes to compete in the Premier League.

Opinion: Declan Rice can become a West Ham great
SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Declan Rice of West Ham United arriving prior to The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Shrewsbury Town and West Ham United at New Meadow on January 7, 2018 in Shrewsbury, England. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham

While West Ham's academy has struggled to reproduce the greats of years before, youngster Declan Rice serves as a reminder that clubs don't have to spend big to get the next rising star. 

Since the likes of Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdiand, the East London club has struggled to emulate the success their youth once achieved over a decade ago. 

With James Tomkins and Reece Oxford being the most recent graduates, Rice's surge into the first team gives the Hammers side a refreshing look. 

Along with the performances of Josh Cullen and Reece Burke in the 0-0 draw to Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, manager David Moyes could yet reap the benefits of a blossoming youth system. 


Big-game performances

Having made his debut under former Hammers manager Slaven Billic in last season's final day 2-1 win over Burnley, Rice has looked assured in the heart of their defence. 

With notable displays against rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the league and Carabao Cup followed by a handful standout performances in West Ham's current four-match unbeaten run, the defender finds himself under the spotlight.  

At Spurs last week, he managed to nullify the goal-scoring prowess of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while it took a wonder strike from Heung-Min Son to salvage a point. 

However, it is the 18-year-old's attitude and consistency to perform to the highest level which makes him such a promising prospect. 

His must-win mentality could well prove the difference between him reaching his potential or not, a mindset which can only have a positive affect on the players around him. 


A born winner?

In an interview with the London Evening Standard last week, his underlying outlook shone through: "Football's all about winning - winning my first big trophy with West Ham, that would be a real dream."

Not only did it highlight his determination to succeed but he already appears to have the footballing ability and the desire to become one of the first names on Moyes' team-sheet. 

He has played an integral part in West Ham's rise to 15th, having featured in six of West Ham's last seven games, a record which saw them lose only once (W2 D3). 

Such appearances will only attract interest from Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, who is likely to be keeping tabs on the starlet and he even included the English-born centre-back in a training squad last year.

Although without a senior cap in a competitive game, England can still attempt to lure the player to make the switch. 

Rice has all the credentials needed to repeat the feats made by former Hammers centre-back John Terry and unlike many others, he now has the opportunity to do so.