England boss Gareth Southgate says he gave West Ham man space to choose who to play for internationally
England boss Gareth Southgate has told talkSPORT he didn’t interfere in the decision-making process when Declan Rice had to select which team he would represent internationally.
And Rice, 19, elected to play for the Three Lions after months of consideration in February.
Rice had played for Ireland on three occasions prior to the decision but was still eligible for England as these appearances only came during international friendlies.
This sparked debate on whether Rice made the right decision and also whether the rules need to be changed regarding international appearances.
And when Southgate had the Rice saga put to him by Adrian Durham and Darren Gough on Drivetime, the England boss said he left the midfielder to make his own mind up but stressed he made it clear to Rice what he thought of him as a player.
Southgate said: “There’s a good debate to be had about what the rules are.
“We’re asking players to make big decisions in their life very early. Declan is still 19-years-old.
Lots of kids in our junior system play for one or two countries at 15 or 16 and they then become attached with a country.
“Some players we’ve lost at a young age, others have come over to us so it is fluid within youth football.
“Declan is the same age as those kids and has played first-team football. But I think we’re asking him to make really big decisions and that’s why I backed away from his decisions.
“He knew what we thought of him as a player but it was important that he had the space to make that decision.
“While the rules are what they are I think that’s going to happen. Families are moving countries, the world is a lot more fluid in terms of eligibility. The only guide we can take are by the rules and they are as they are.”