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25th Jun 2024

Declan Rice fires back at ‘bitter’ James McClean after ‘overrated’ claims

Zoe Hodges

James McClean

‘It might be a bit of bitterness’

Declan Rice has hit back at ‘bitter’ James McClean after his former Ireland teammate labelled him as ‘overrated’.

Rice, who qualified to play for Ireland through his grandparents, won three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland but switched to play for England in 2019.

McClean, who has been working as a pundit for RTÉ during this tournament branded the Arsenal midfielder as ‘overrated’ and claimed he was ‘not world class’ in a series of headline grabbing comments which found their way back to Rice.

The 25-year-old revealed it was not the first time he had batted off comments from McClean.

He said: “I thought he was a really top guy. When I left Ireland to come to England, I heard a few things he was obviously not happy about. He made comments a few years ago.

“It might be a bit of bitterness towards me not playing for Ireland but I’ve not got a bad word to say about him, to be honest. I see the comments but I don’t try to put too much energy into it.”

Rice attempted to take the moral high ground in the dispute but also pointed out that he and McClean were at very different stages in their career.

“He’s had a great career himself – I think he is coming to the end of his career now and he’s got over a hundred caps for Ireland.

“It would be easy for me to sit here and say something back to him but, like I said, we are at opposite ends of our careers now – he’s 35 and I’m 25.

“I’ve known him, I’ve played with him, he’s entitled to his opinion and I’ve had to fight a load of those opinions from other people before.”

No doubt if England lose or scrape a draw against Slovenia tonight, Rice and his fellow teammates will be picked apart by McClean, who last week called England ‘arrogant’.

He said: “For a country that’s won one World Cup & have never won the Euros they’re very expectant & very arrogant about their chances.”

So far, England’s performances have yet to prove the Wrexham winger wrong.

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