The brand-new champions of Europe, Italy have conquered the throne of European kings with a devious penalty-shootout triumph against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, disappointing the billions of fans at Wembley chanting ‘It’s Coming Home.’ Nonetheless, England’s Euro 2020 run to the final was a fairytale fabricated in the heavens, with the Three Lions’ chronicle having more than one protagonist. And one man who carried the dreams of his nation on his shoulders was West Ham United’s defensive-midfielder Declan Rice.
— England (@England) July 11, 2021
Declan Rice’s club manager David Moyes, who has witnessed a revamp at the Hammers, feels the youngster is a blessing worth billions.
“He is arguably the best holding midfield player in the country and the best thing about Declan is he will get better,” West Ham’s manager said. “I don’t agree with the owners that he is a £100m footballer. Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more.”
The silent assassin in England’s Euro 2020 campaign, the Hammer truly hammered his rivals throughout the summer carnival. Like David Beckham’s never-ending smile, Declan Rice enjoyed a wonderful and never-ending fairytale in the Euros.
We at FootTheBall figure out why England’s number.4 laid the foundation for England’s Euro 2020 route to the final and why Declan Rice was the Three Lions’ unsung hero.
THE NAME IS RICE, DECLAN RICE!
While the media concentrated on Sancho’s jail-time under Southgate and Jack Grealish’s under usage, a 22-year-old defensive midfielder was weaving his magic for the Three Lions. Declan Rice’s market value sky-rocketed after England’s heartbreaking 2018 World Cup campaign. With Henderson and Dier reaching the twilight of their career, an injection of fresh blood in the midfield was needed for Gareth Southgate’s army. A young talented prospect, Rice usually ignites London Stadium with his performances in the Premier League.
This has been some journey. As a nation, we were united in a belief that we can achieve something special after the hardest of years.
It wasn't meant to be, but this team is just getting started. They will continue to make you proud, both on and off the pitch. pic.twitter.com/vDaTXvo6cH
— England (@England) July 11, 2021
The fulcrum of Gareth Southgate’s midfield, Declan Rice shone bright like a diamond in England’s silver-medal winning campaign. England kicked off their campaign against a familiar opponent with a Croatian challenge standing in front of them. Although Leeds United’s labouring midfielder Kalvin-Phillips earned the praise, Rice’s capability of glueing his attack and defence went unnoticed.
Manchester rivals and full-backs Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw are a pair who constantly gallop forward leaving spaces behind for Maguire and Stones to cover. Rice’s addition to Southgate’s eleven gives the full-back the license to dart ahead without thinking twice. Declan Rice shrouds the counter-attack and escaping his vicious tackles is nothing less than “Mission Impossible.”
In the quarter-final game against a depleted but brave Ukraine, England stamped their authority with the referee’s first whistle. But a 1-0 half-time advantage didn’t give England the license to candidly attack as a single counter-attack could have demolished their dreams. Declan Rice along with Phillips rarely gave Ukraine’s glittering forwards a moment of peace. Poking in with tackles, delivering the perfect deliveries for Kane and Sterling to pounce on, and solidifying the backline, Rice enjoyed a jaw-dropping quarter-final outing in Rome and England progressed quite comfortably.
THE BAZOOKA IN SOUTHGATE’S ARSENAL
Rice is a tremendous athlete who can dribble the game ahead at breakneck speed to spark an attack within the blink of an eye or just shatter defensive barriers before passing to an English comrade. He possesses the muscular capabilities to explode straight through an enemy’s core. Declan is an amazing team player who easily hides his teammates’ inefficiency. Be it, Thomas Soucek, at the Hammers or his new partner Kalvin Phillips at the Three Lions.
The Leeds United candidate lacked experience coming into the Euros and the biggest European stage could have affected his trickery. But Rice’s potential shut England’s haters in the perfect manner. 9 tackles and 26 ball recoveries, Rice might not top the defensive catalogue but digs his teammates’ out from the jaws of defeat.
The Hammers’ captain had an outstanding passing accuracy in Europe’s summer jamboree. 292 passes completed out of 320 attempted, Rice’s 90% accuracy put his head and shoulders above the other defensive-midfielders in Europe.
Rice is a hard worker who is powerful with his blocks and is an aggressive warrior constantly winning aerial battles for the Three Lions. An intelligent customer, Rice lacks a hint of pace but makes up with his ferocious tackling. The Danes’ must be aware of his knack of flying in with vicious challenges to earn possession of the ball. Dolberg and Damsgaard did trouble the English defenders but after a few minutes of individual brilliance, Denmark’s deadly duo was left stranded by Rice’s exceptional abilities.
While Phillips streams forward looking for shooting areas, Declan Rice loves to sit behind hunting for a thundering shot or preparing to stop the rivals’ charge.
A roster full of galacticos, Rice’s presence in Southgate’s Lions helps them to keep their feet on the ground. Declan Rice isn’t the one on whom Amazon would publish a documentary tomorrow but surely he’ll be synonymous with England’s enormous run in Euro 2020.