Declan Rice is in the head

A physical footballer, but intellectually before that.

Declan Rice is one of those phenomena that would drive him and Phineas Taylor Barnum insane Barnum & Bailey Circus in 18th century America. A Frankenstein full of physical strength and technical prowesswhere panache and intelligence (a word whose outlines are difficult to define, but which makes the fine difference between a good footballer and a champion) always go hand in hand.

This is how Rice has rejected the stereotype that professional athletes are not thinking beings – and as described by the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson “The Greatest Drama Ever Written”the Premier League – he has carved himself a leading role, certainly with sporting and technical ability, but above all in a cerebral waywhich evolves throughout the career, readings and style of play.

“I’ll do it dirty work“My teammates will take care of the rest,”

he said a few years ago to recapture an old and leathery British flair in which “the best offense and defense” and at the end “Whoever suffers the least wins” – that sort of sums up the spirit of Southgate’s England. Still, Rice has come a long way since then, and if he’s now considered one of the best performers of his role in the Premier League, it’s because he’s a complete 360-degree footballer. His superiority is physical and athletic as he is able to achieve anything while staying centered with his body. His role on the field is not monolithic (he can play as a half-back in front of defense but also as a midfielder), but his strength is predominantly spiritual.

A pleasant exception in a hectic football (and world) where sources of distraction – economic, technological, existential, especially for a young footballer on a stage like the Premier League – risk creating and burning myths over the course of a few seasons. In contrast, Declan Rice’s path was linear. Over the years he has managed to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s finest talents. Reliable, credible, solida real rarity in a time when technical inconspicuousness is very often synonymous with a narrow pass in the reports on Monday morning.

At the start of 2019, at one of the first turning points in his career, Declan Rice was called up by coach Gareth Southgate for England’s first two games in the Euro 2020 qualifying process. The boy, originally from south-east London, therefore decided to do it after much deliberation Give up the Irish jersey (his grandparents are originally from Cork) after appearing in as many friendlies in three times in 2018 wearing the shirt boys in green.

Taking advantage of the rule that a player who has only played friendlies with a higher selection can choose to accept call-up for another country whose passport he holds if he has never played in official matches, Rice officially requests the ability to change his eligibility to play for the national team. actually “pass by”. from Ireland to England.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision I’ve made my heart and my headbased on what I believe is best for my future.”

In Ireland there was obviously talk of a dishonorable decision, a betrayal, a place stolen from colleagues who really care about the national team. As if that wasn’t enough, people on social media then dug up posts from a few years earlier in which the then 16-year-old Rice had spoken out his support for the work of the IRA (Abbreviation of Irish Republican Army, a secret military organization formed in the early 20th century to liberate Ireland from English rule); a social “support” that Rice, after crossing the other side of the fence, naturally accepted forgiveness.

But those weren’t the only controversies surrounding the 24-year-old Englishman. The choice ofLeave West Ham after six seasons When Mark Noble was played as both protagonist and captain after his career was over, he was indeed not welcomed by a people who fancied they had found a new flag. The fact that he left the pitch as a winner, with a European medal around his neck, certainly made the farewell less bitter, but he never let a rain of criticism rain down on his head and those around him (it is the father who looks after the interests of the boy off the pitch).

To tie sporting destiny to Arsenal, a club where, like never before, the group’s rhetoric that underlies its success is overtaken by substance fits perfectly with the phrase the immortal Woody Allen attributes to Jack Rollins, his legendary producer, who died at the age of 100 years and three months. “Don’t choose projects for money, think artistically“. An aesthetic but also an intellectual choiceand which can perhaps be explained by the concept of football expressed by Rice in the Telegraph columns last year:

My father always tells me when I step onto the field: “What do you have to lose?” And I have this mentality. How do you say: ‘I have 90 minutes here, why should I hold back?’ Why should I hold back?’ If you want to be a top player, you must always be in the game. I’m constantly being watched and every time I go out I have to try to be the best player on the pitch. That’s my mentality“. In a perspective where Rice has little to lose and everything to conquer, and where he also wants to be the protagonist, Arteta’s arsenal is probably your best bet.

And those who insensitively remind him of recent statements in which he admitted that he dreamed of qualifying for the Champions League with the wine red and blue, we can reply by limiting ourselves to a mischievous smile; I finally remember Dreams change, grow, compete exclusively with the experiences and expectations of those who grow them. Even boldly, he favors London – a city where both demand and supply of love abound – and guides Mikel Arteta in Manchester and Pep Guardiola. Because very often the best future prospects have to flee uncertain gifts.

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