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09th Apr 2018

Declan Rice wanted to make a statement against club that released him at 14

Jack O'Toole

West Ham United and Republic of Ireland defender Declan Rice has said that he was delighted to make a statement against his former youth side Chelsea on Sunday.

A second-half equaliser from Javier Hernandez earned the Hammers a 1-1 draw against the defending league champions at Stamford Bridge as Rice made his first start against his former club after he was released by the Chelsea Academy at the age of 14.

Rice was picked up by West Ham less than 48 hours after he was told he was surplus to requirements at Chelsea and on his return to the club he said that he was delighted to make a statement against his old side.

“I’ve come back here after being released by Chelsea at 14 and five years later I’m playing for West Ham in the Premier League,” said Rice.

“Sunday was a crazy day and one which me and my family are very proud of. Coming to Chelsea games as a kid, joining the club at seven and being released at 14, I don’t think I need to prove anything, but today I felt I came back and made a statement and I was happy with my performance.”

Rice added that he had prepared and studied Eden Hazard and Willian before the game but that you don’t gain a full appreciation for their ability until the match starts.

“On the day, we had a game plan and we stuck to it,” said Rice.

“We came out with a point and that’s massive for us going into the final six games of the season. It’s all about learning. I’d watched clips and obviously I know how Eden Hazard plays and how Willian plays, but you can’t really tell off a video until you face them in real life as you come up against different challenges.

“They played a few tricky one-twos and they did get in a couple of times, but in the second half we started to suss it out. It’s only going to help me build as a player, going up against these types of world class players.”

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