I belong to Chelsea, Declan Rice declares support for the blues’ return

The 21-year-old, who played in Chelsea’s academy for seven years before being released aged 14, has a long-term contract at West Ham which runs out in 2024 – and the club have the option of extending it by another year.

Rice will return to the club on Monday for pre-season training with the rest of his team-mates.

From Chelsea reject to England international
Since joining in 2014, Rice has gone on to become a regular at West Ham, and played every single minute of their 2019-20 Premier League campaign – topping the club’s stats for most passes, tackles and interceptions.

Rice broke into West Ham’s first team under David Moyes in 2017-18, four years after his time at Chelsea was brought to an abrupt end.

“I was released by Chelsea at 14 years old,” he said back in 2018. “I remember it, a Tuesday night. On the Wednesday I was training with Fulham, five minutes from my house, and then on the Thursday I was training with West Ham.

“After one session at both clubs they both wanted me. There was interest from other clubs as well but I made the switch to West Ham.

“I had to change house, change school, so it was a massive decision – and it’s paid off. When Chelsea let me go it was really deflating. For me, as a youngster, it’s all I ever knew – living 10 minutes from the training ground, going to loads of the games.

“It’s one of those where you’ve just got to pick yourself up and go again. I think some of the boys at Chelsea might be thinking ‘wow! Look at Dec doing well for West Ham’.”

Speaking on Soccer AM, Rice revealed his shock at being released by Chelsea as a youngster and his battle to make it as a professional footballer at West Ham
After switching allegiance from the Republic of Ireland, Rice made his senior England debut in March 2019 against Czech Republic at Wembley.

“I probably won’t think about it for a couple of days and then it will hit me,” Rice told West Ham TV.

“To make my debut in front of 80,000 fans, and to have my family here; my girlfriend, my brothers, it’s special and to get the victory as well, I can’t really put it into words, but it’s a special night.”

Chelsea’s Mason Mount and West Ham’s Rice talk to Soccer Saturday about their friendship
Rice is close friends with Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount, and was in action when the latter made his England debut in September.

“We’ve obviously known each other for a very, very long time and always speaking about maybe that opportunity of playing with each other again,” Mount said.

“It’s obviously happened today so I went over to him straight away and just said ‘well done, we’re back on the pitch together’, so, yeah, looking forward to the future now.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to make your debut for your country, it’s something that you dream of as a little kid.”

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