West Ham’s Declan Rice: A Chance to Create a Legacy
The Europa Conference League final is quickly approaching, and West Ham is gearing up for their match against Serie A side Fiorentina. This contest stands between the Hammers and their first trophy of any significance since 1980. However, there is one player who may be playing his last game for the club – Declan Rice.
Rice has been with West Ham for nine years, joining them as a 14-year-old after being rejected by Chelsea. He’s made 245 appearances for the club and won three player of the year awards. Now, with many offers coming in from some of the biggest clubs in football, it seems likely that this will be his last game donning a West Ham kit.
A Chance at History
If West Ham can beat Fiorentina in this final, Rice will join legendary World Cup winner Bobby Moore as the only man to captain West Ham to victory in a European final. The only other man to lead them to victory in any final is Billy Bonds – a defender whose status is seared into the club’s history as one of their very best.
“It would just mean everything…to lift that trophy…to see our families afterward with the trophy.” – Declan Rice
Rice knows he can bow out like a hero if they win this match against Fiorentina; it would be his biggest achievement so far which means everything especially when lifting that coveted trophy along with his teammates.”
From Rejection To Stardom
Rice spent eight years in Chelsea’s academy before they decided he was not for them. West Ham felt he had something but even they were not totally sure. Rice was the only player in his year group given a scholarship without the offer of a guaranteed professional contract.
But then, as now, Rice listened to his coaches and worked on the areas he was told to improve. Matthew Upson, who mentored him while at West Ham said that “Declan was already at a super high level when I worked with him in terms of what he was capable of.”
The Future for Declan Rice
Rice’s ascent to stardom has not been easy, however. He is currently one of England’s brightest midfield prospects and several big clubs have shown an interest including Arsenal; although it remains unclear if any club will be willing to pay somewhere near £100m price tag put on him by West Ham.
“He had the ability to take criticism or feedback…add it to his game which is a real skill.” – Matthew Upson
Regardless of where Rice ends up next season, there is no denying that this final could be the perfect opportunity for him and other players like him – young talents eager to prove themselves on football’s biggest stage -to leave their mark on history and create their own legacy.