West Ham's Rice is sweet and sour about the end of the season
PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 May 2018
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Dynamite Declan hails breakthrough season in the Premier League
When the final whistle went on Sunday and this topsy turvy season had finally spluttered to an end, for most players and for just about every fan, there was a huge sigh of relief.
But for one remarkable young man, he wanted it to go and one, such has been his success during the campaign.
West Ham defender Declan Rice has made 31 appearances in claret and blue this season, lifted the Young Hammer of the Year trophy and was second in the Hammer of the Year voting.
He also made his full senior international debut for Ireland in Turkey, so you could forgive him for not wanting this campaign to end.
“I think when I was going into the last couple of minutes against Everton and I was getting a bit of the ball, I was thinking I didn’t want it to end,” said the 19-year-old with a smile.
“It has been a great season for me personally, one I can look back on very proudly and I have to give a big thanks to the manager trusting me and giving me the chance to progress as a player.”
Certainly manager David Moyes should be given full credit for sticking with the youngster and giving him such a wealth of experience.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the defender and mistakes have proved costly as invariably they have led to goals.
“I would say I have cost us some points this season, but that is part of me learning the game,” admitted the defender.
“Every top player makes mistakes and I just have to get over that and learn from them. If I wasn’t learning from them, it would be a problem, but I am learning and trying to kick on.”
He has certainly been helped with that by the experience and support of some of the West Ham squad like Mark Noble and in particular Pablo Zabaleta.
“To have players like Pablo around me who have made thousands of mistakes in their career has been so helpful,” he said. “I can’t remember him making a mistake this year and he has learned from his mistakes and so do all the top players.”
Despite the errors, it has been an incredible journey for Rice this season, so can he believe how well it has gone?
“No I can’t,” he said. “I have been around some great players, we have had a change of manager and luckily enough he has given me the chance to show what I can do and to improve.
“Now I can’t wait for next season to start.”
Rice helped the Hammers to a 3-1 win over Everton on the last day of the campaign, meaning the team finished in 13th place in the Premier League.
“It’s not a bad finish, but if you look at the points we have dropped late in games, it could have been a lot higher,” admitted the Irishman.
“We will take it, it is disappointing, but there have been some highs and we are now looking forward to next season.”
It has certainly been a tough campaign for West Ham, but the emergence of Rice has been one of the few high points. His coolness on the ball, his anticipation and intelligence belie his tender years.
“I want to stay at West Ham,” he said. “I want to keep playing for this club and next season hopefully I can make some more appearances.”
That looks like a sure thing whoever is in charge of the club. He is already a crowd favourite among the West Ham faithful.
“The fans have been excellent,” he said. “I think at the start of the season they didn’t really know who I was, but now they are singing my name and asking for stuff – it is special.”
It looks like the young defender could be very special too.