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'Don't think anyone knows': West Ham star says he was almost released at age 16
Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

'Don't think anyone knows': West Ham star says he was almost released at age 16

Declan Rice was almost released by West Ham at the age of 16, he revealed in a conversation with Gary Neville on The Overlap.

The 23-year-old is comfortably West Ham’s best and most important player, with many calling him the best in the league in his midfield position. He’s constantly being linked with a move away from East London, with David Moyes recently saying he is worth more than £100m.

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

Therefore it’s hard to imagine the England international was almost released by the Hammers just seven years ago.

Speaking to Gary Neville’s ‘The Overlap’ Rice said: “They were actually going to release me as well, at 16. I don’t think anyone knows that.’

‘It was a 50/50 decision, half the coaches were saying keep him on and half were saying we’re not too sure [what’s going to happen].”

As the interview goes on Rice reveals he was given a two-year scholarship by Academy Director Terry Westley after a game for West Ham Under 18s against Fulham.

Conversely, there were five other players who were offered a one-year scholarship with a guarantee of a three-year professional contract. Rice used this as motivation instead of a form of rejection.

He added: “It was in my mind that once I got that [scholarship] I needed to work towards getting that pro contract.’

‘I had something I was always pushing for. I was always driving myself to get better, doing extra work.’

‘Once I got my first pro contract I was playing really well and then I just pushed on.’

‘I think within a year I’d signed another [professional contract]. Not having the pro contract to start with really did help. I didn’t stay complacent and I always wanted to get to that next level.”

Declan Rice

Rice was also released from his boyhood club Chelsea just two years earlier when he was age 14. The path he has been on since is nothing short of inspiring.

He frequently captains a West Ham side battling for European football. The same Hammers side who narrowly avoided relegation just two seasons ago. He was also a key player in the England squad that reached the final of Euro 2020.

Rice impress’ every time he takes to the football pitch. Despite being pleasing for a West Ham side looking to qualify for the Champions League for the very first time, it will also cast a shadow of fear over the Hammers faithful.

Over the years West Ham have seen their academy prospects move on in a bid to win silverware. Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole to name a few. And the fans will fear Rice is the next player to go down this route.

He admitted in the same conversation with Gary Neville on The Overlap that he ‘wants to win it all’. So just how long the West Ham hierarchy can keep hold of their prized asset remains to be seen.

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