Martin O’Neill denies Jack Grealish and Declan Rice Ireland’s claims

The former Ireland boss insists he couldn’t stop Grealish and Rice from opting for England

Grealish and Rice played international football in the colors of Ireland, the latter playing for the senior team when O’Neill was manager.

Nonetheless, both have had successful international careers and O’Neill insisted there was nothing more he could have done to tie them to careers in Ireland.

Grealish was then transferred to Manchester City for £100m and Rice joined Arsenal for £105m this summer, but O’Neill has denied allegations that he should have made sure they still wore Ireland green.

“I’ve replied to this countless times, but it might be worth doing one last time. “That will be the last thing I will say on the subject”, O’Neill Ladbrokes Fanzone.

“Jack Grealish and Declan Rice were both born in England. First of all, both were born in England. Jack’s father is also English. Both have the opportunity to play for the Republic of Ireland as minors and both really enjoyed it.

“During my tenure, early in my tenure as national team manager, I became aware of Jack and visited him and his father. It was really uncomplicated; the choice was there for him.

“He knew that the moment he played a minute of international rank football – in other words, a qualifier of some sort… a meaningful senior game – he would tie him to Ireland.”

“But it was always Jack’s decision – and his father’s in particular – that England would be the route he would take. I don’t think Jack or his family have any regrets about that decision.

“Yes, you could say Jack would have played a lot more for the Republic of Ireland, but would he have had similar success at international level? Quite obviously, the records will tell you he wouldn’t have done that.” .

“In the case of Declan Rice, I actually fought for him three times, in the senior team – and he was just a young lad. I capped him because I felt he was good enough to play for the Republic of Ireland, even at that age. There was a dilemma here too, as he had played for Ireland as a minor.

“But after I put him in the senior team his agent got in touch with Gareth Southgate. I wasn’t even entirely sure if Gareth knew much about Declan at the time as he was still trying to break into the West Ham first-team.

“He was left out of the West Ham team earlier this season and I remember telling him at the time that the manager wouldn’t know his team’s strengths and weaknesses until he’d had some time with me.” told him to just be patient and assured him that he would invade this team.

“In one of the games he played for me, one of the friendlies, he was great – I can still remember a moment when he played an excellent pass and you could just see the characteristics of a player who is on the rise.” He also had the fitness to do it; he had all the qualities.

“But the bottom line was this: I had no intention of forcing or deceiving him into playing a senior Republic of Ireland qualifier for a number of reasons. First, I just wouldn’t have done it. Secondly, he, his father and his agent knew the rules anyway and decided to go to England. Did he regret that decision? I do not believe that.”

O’Neill continued to insist he had no control over the final decision for Grealish and Rice to give up their careers in Ireland, as he dismissed claims he could have played the duo in a competitive game.

“Obviously I would have hoped they would both play for the Republic of Ireland later, but the decision wasn’t mine,” he added.

“It was never my fault. It was up to the players, their families and their advisors. And if England finally calls and gives you a chance, then of course you will take it.”

“You know, from a commercial point of view, you have to pay attention to all these things. I ask you: If you were a brother or an older relative of either of these two boys, what would you advise? I think you would tell them to think about things a little.

“It seems like quite a baton to hit me with, which I never saw fit. I think an Irish journalist once asked me, “Didn’t you feel like you almost sneaked her in a qualifier just to nail her?” It’s just nonsense.” Martin O’Neill denies Jack Grealish and Declan Rice Ireland’s claims

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