After being released from Chelsea at 14-years-old, Declan Rice has opened up about his time in South West London.
The West Ham midfielder, who is currently preparing for the Three Lions’ qualifying games against Bulgaria and Kosovo, has admitted that he was left ‘distraught’ when he was let go at Stamford Bridge.
A junior at Chelsea alongside close friend Mason Mount, Rice was born just down the road from Fulham Road in Kingston upon Thames having grown up as a Blues supporter.
The 20-year-old has recently opened up about the situation all those years ago.
He told FourFourTwo Magazine: “I’d thought I was a certainty to get another contract. When my dad told me, I was distraught. I’d grown up as a Chelsea fan – that’s what I’d known my whole life.
“At the time when I got released by Chelsea, I thought they’d made a mistake, so I knew I had a point to prove.
“Now they’re probably looking back on it – the person who made the decision – and thinking, ‘Maybe we’ve messed up here’.
“[Chelsea] doesn’t matter now. I’m working hard, I’m at West Ham, and I’m here to get better.
“My family haven’t been to a Chelsea game in about three years – we’re just West Ham now, home and away. It’s special here.”
Rice had his breakthrough season in the 2017/18 campaign with the Hammers and his since cemented the defensive midfield spot as his own.
Since then he has gone on to play over 60 games for West Ham and was called-up to the England squad in March 2019 after pledging his future to the Three Lions - playing three times already.