Ogbonna: This is just the beginning for Declan Rice
You would be hard pushed to find anyone associated with West Ham United who believes Declan Rice is not deserving of his place in the full England squad.
The Hammers’ No41 received his first call-up from Gareth Southgate last week, just days after having his international registration transfer from Republic of Ireland to England ratified by FIFA.
Angelo Ogbonna, who himself opted to represent Italy ahead of the country of his parents’ birth, Nigeria, as a youngster, backed Rice to make his mark in an England shirt, not just in the upcoming UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers with Czech Republic and Montenegro, but for many years to come.
With talent and quality, I think he can be successful for England
“I did expect it to happen so quickly,” the defender conceded, before expanding his thoughts. “Dec has a lot of quality and I’m very, very happy for him. This is just the beginning for him and I wish him the best of luck.
“I’m not surprised to be fair because everybody can see his quality. He is a talented player, but first of all I think he is a humble player, a humble person, so he deserves this and I wish him the best of luck for everything. He has to keep his feet on the ground and continue in this way.
“He can read the game, he is very good on the ball, as a centre half he can keep the ball at his feet and he can give the team the balance. He has many qualities as a young player and he has to keep working and improving.
“I think he has to work hard, like he has done all this time. He is a good talent and I think he’s ambitious as well, and that is very important at this level. With talent and quality, I think he can be successful for England.”
With his own background, Ogbonna also has an understanding of Kingston-upon-Thames born Rice’s decision to continue his own international career with England, having previously played age-group and three friendly international matches for Ireland.
“I 100 per cent chose Italy because my background is Italian. Even if originally it’s Nigeria, but I grew up in Italy and my football culture is Italian. For me it was totally easy to choose Italy. I think it’s the same for Dec.”