West Ham United star Declan Rice opened a can of worms when he chose England on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old midfielder had won three senior Republic of Ireland caps in friendlies having played for his grandparents’ country since under-16 level.

Rice has already made 59 appearances for West Ham and has excelled for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Indeed he is fast becoming the club’s most indispensable player.

In August the Londoner said he needed time to decide his future, as winning a competitive cap for the Republic would have tied him to the country.

Photo by Marc Atkins Getty Images

‘An extremely difficult decision’

Since then Rice has settled his club future, signing a new six-year deal with West Ham on Christmas Day.

On Wednesday Rice released a lengthy statement on Twitter explaining his thinking.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” he said.

“I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. I have equal respect for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.

“Ultimately, it is a personal decision I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”

Photo By Seb Daly Sportsfile via Getty Images

Critical Kilbane mocks Rice

One of the youngster’s biggest critics during the difficult process has been footballer turned pundit Kevin Kilbane.

Kilbane, who played for nine different clubs, was born in Preston but opted to play for Ireland, the country of his parents.

The former Everton man has been vocal in his criticism of Rice’s hesitancy to commit.

And he was one of the first to react to Rice’s statement saying: “If you’re a “proud Englishman” then why play for us in the first place?”

Photo by PETER MUHLY AFP Getty Images

West Ham fans savage pundit

That prompted an angry reaction from Hammers fans defending their young hero.

Many pointing out Kilbane wouldn’t understand Rice’s thinking because he ‘never had the choice’.

In actual fact Kilbane rejected the chance to play for England at Under 18 level.

But the West Ham faithful were not best pleased with Kilbane’s criticism.

Here are a selection of responses to Kilbane’s tweet.

 

‘Oh the irony’

‘Love a bitter old pro’

‘If you were half decent you would have too’