It will go down as one of those that got away but Declan Rice is a young man who has made his decision to declare for England and that’s just life.
In a personal and intelligent statement yesterday the player said that “like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. I am a proud Englishman, having been born and raised in London. However, I am just as proud of my family’s Irish heritage and my affinity and connection with the country.”
“I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear cut, simple selection, particularly for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position.”
“Ultimately, it is a personal decision which I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”
He could have made a difference to the Republic of Ireland over many years but because he never played even one minute in a full competitive match the chance is now gone.
We may never know whether he had asked not to be considered for those games or whether that was purely a selection based in the moment by Martin O’Neill.
The response on social media has produced the usual mix of keyboard warrior rage, in contrast to both his and the FAI’s more measured reaction.
It has also generated plenty of humour, the best way to deal with these kind of setbacks. We particularly liked Oliver Callan’s reaction.
"First they stole our potatoes, now they've stolen our Rice".
— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) February 13, 2019
Now though it is time to move on as Mick McCarthy said “We start the European Championship qualifiers at the end of March and my coaching staff and I have concentrated our efforts on those who want to play for us. They are the important ones and they are the ones who want to play for Ireland against Gibraltar and Georgia.
“We know Declan’s decision now and we continue to plan for the games next month.”