Declan Rice pays tribute to 'top footballer' Dylan Tombides
Dylan Tombides Award winner Declan Rice has paid tribute to his late fellow Academy of Football graduate, who would have turned 24 today.
Rice, who followed the talented Australian through the ranks on joining the Club at the age of 13, was among those left upset when the striker passed away following a long and courageous battle with cancer in April 2014.
Two years later, the young Rice was honoured to win the Dylan Tombides Award, which is presented annually to West Ham United’s outstanding Academy prospect, and he has since been appointed as an Ambassador for the DT38 Foundation – the charity set up in Tombides’ honour to raise awareness and funding for the fight against testicular cancer.
“I didn’t know Dylan but I heard he was a lovely boy and a top footballer, so it made it more special for me,” said Rice, reflecting on winning the award named in Tombides’ memory.
I didn’t know Dylan but I heard he was a lovely boy and a top footballer, so it made it more special for me
The teenager, who has been named in the provisional Republic of Ireland senior squad for a three-day training camp and friendly international in Turkey later this month, is proud to have taken on a role with the DT38 Foundation and called on young men like him to educate themselves about male cancers.
In the UK alone around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year and, if caught early enough, the survival rate is around 98 per cent.
“Guys, the facts are out there,” said Rice. “Testicular cancer affects younger men in particular and if you catch it early your chances of getting treated effectively are much higher and so it’s so important that you check yourselves regularly and seek advice if you notice anything different.
“Don’t take a risk, don’t be silly, just check yourselves.”