West Ham United star Declan Rice has opened up on his shock Chelsea exit at the age of 14, describing it as a ‘massive disappointment’.
Rice, now 21, joined the Blues’ academy in 2006 but was ultimately released in 2014 as he was left to chase his football dream away from Stamford Bridge.
While Rice has gone on to prove Chelsea wrong as he stars for the Hammers, the midfielder admits the exit really shook him but didn’t sway his desire to become a professional footballer.
‘I had to overcome a massive disappointment of being released by Chelsea at the age of 14,’ Rice told Sky Sports‘ Soccer AM.
‘That was everything I ever knew to be honest. From nine to 14, training there Monday to Friday, playing games and to get told you won’t be a part of that anymore was a major shock. I never thought it would have to happen but it did.
‘And then I had the fortunate chance to sign for either Fulham or West Ham and chose West Ham and started a whole new chapter.
‘I knew it was going to be tough, but always as a kid I wanted to be a professional footballer. Nothing was ever going to get in the way of me working as hard as possible to become that.
‘I was just so driven and wanted to be the best I could be. I had to make sacrifices, move away from home, move into new digs, and now all the decisions that I made have played out really well.’
After starring last season to earn his first England cap, Rice’s current campaign with the Hammers has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Premier League remains intent on finishing the season, the midfielder has stressed players must be eased back into the competition.
‘If you are looking to go straight back into it, you’re going to look at so many injuries. That’s what clubs are saying,’ Rice said.
‘You need at least three weeks of high intensity interval training to get yourself back in shape with the football.
‘It’s been tough because you are used to seeing your teammates, going out every day and doing the day to day things. To have that taken away from you is really tough.
‘But on the other side of it, given the position we are in at West Ham, it’s nice to not feel the pressure of going out and playing for three points every week. It’s nice from that perspective not to have that stress.
‘But really not only me but the whole of the Premier League want to get back to it now to be honest.’
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