Rice named U17 Irish Player of the Year


West Ham United PL2 captain Declan Rice has been crowned FAI U17 International Player of the Year at a ceremony in Dublin.

The 18-year-old beat fellow Irishmen Canice Carroll (Oxford United) and Jayson Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion) to the prestigious award.

Rice has enjoyed a terrific season for club and country, beginning with him being named Hammers U23s captain by manager Terry Westley. 

He's stood out at the heart of the back four this season, playing 26 times in Premier League 2, the Premier League Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy. 

He's also scored twice, both times in the Premier League Cup, netting in the 2-2 draw with Leicester City in the group stage and in the last 16 defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday. 

Rice also signed a new contract with the club in February, pledging his future to the Hammers until 2020. 

Upon signing his new deal, the 2015/16 Academy Player of the Year said: "It has been an amazing season for me, I think I’ve kicked on and progressed. After the season I’ve had, being on the bench for the first team and captaining the U23s in every game, it’s been amazing. I’ve trained with the first team quite a bit as well and that makes me want to kick on even more."

Rice has also enjoyed a meteoric rise with his country - having impressed with the U17s and U19s, he was called up to the U21s at the end of 2016.

For the upcoming international break, the defender has joined up with the U19s for their European qualifier with Belgium. 

“I got my first call up for the U21s a couple of months ago and that was a great experience to be with a different set of lads and learn from coaches who have a different style,” Rice continued. 

“We’ve got the Euros with the U19s and I haven’t been with them in a while so I cannot wait to play with them again.”