West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has confirmed that he grew up in a Chelsea-mad household and stressed his desire to keep his London roots alive, amid reports of a major battle for his signature this summer.
Chelsea are enormous fans of Rice and have been close to pulling the trigger on a transfer for the last two years. They are expected to pursue a deal this summer as well, but they will face serious competition from the rest of the Premier League’s elite, with Manchester United heavily linked with the 23-year-old.
Rice, who was part of the Chelsea academy before being released at 14, has never hidden his connection to the Blues and told The Overlap of his family’s affiliation with the club.
“Growing up, the whole family was Chelsea,” Rice said. “I feel like it’s out there, everyone knows, it’s well documented.
“But I feel like when you play for a club like West Ham you become really affiliated to it, and there’s part of me now – and my family as well – that is a massive West Ham fan.”
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Strolling around Rice’s boyhood area of Kingston-upon-Thames while conducting the interview with Gary Neville, the England international admitted that he does not want to move far away from the area anytime soon.
“I’m here all the time,” Rice explained, admitting that he still lives close to where he grew up. “I’ve always wanted to stay close to this place, I feel like I don’t want to lose my roots.”
If that doesn’t get Chelsea fans going, Rice teased them even more by opening up on his admiration for Blues legend John Terry.
“I speak to him a lot. I speak to him all the time really,” he said.
“For me growing up being a Chelsea fan, having a season ticket there, going to all the games, being in the academy. Just him, looking at him, everything was JT as a kid. JT 26 on the back. Even when I was younger I said if I make it I want to be No 26, but I feel like as I’ve got older now I’ve grown out of that – it would look a bit creepy!
“He was amazing for me when I got released as well, he picked up the phone – he didn’t have to, I was only 14 at the time and I was speaking to my idol – so yeah, we’ve got a good relationship.”
The cherry on top came from Terry himself, who took to Twitter to write ‘Love ya mate’ in response to Rice’s comments.
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