By Michael Hincks
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Last update: 04/04/19 6:15
Six years after being released by Chelsea, Declan Rice will return to Stamford Bridge as England's national team when West Ham traveled to London Monday night football. The clubs are only 10 miles away, but it was a trip for the twenty …
Rice has been one of the most important players in the Premier League this season, having played every minute in the league since September 16.
Chelsea vs West Ham
April 8, 2019, 7:00 pm
His performances gave him an appeal for the senior English team last month, after he had changed alliances with the Republic of Ireland, and made his debut as a substitute 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic before starting 5 -1 victory in Montenegro.
But Rice's rise to prominence didn't come without a hitch and, before the excitement of becoming a professional footballer, there was a deflation when Chelsea let him go at the age of 14.
"I was released by Chelsea at 14," Rice said in January 2018. "I remember, on a Tuesday night, I trained with Fulham on Wednesday, five minutes from my house, and then on Thursday I was training. with West Ham.
"After a session in both clubs, both wanted me, there was also interest from other clubs, but I made the move to West Ham. I had to move house, change schools, so it was a huge decision – and it is been repaid.
"When Chelsea let me go it was really deflated, for me, as a boy, that's all I've ever known – living 10 minutes from the training ground, going to do lots of games.
"It's one of those where you just have to recover and go again, I think some of the Chelsea guys might think Wow! See that the Dec is going well for West Ham & # 39;"
About three months after this honest recollection, the "Chelsea boys" witnessed the development of Rice in first person when West Ham fought for 1-1 in April 2018.
Coming to Chelsea as a child, reaching the club at seven and leaving at 2pm, I don't think I have to prove anything, but today I felt like I was back and made a statement.
Rice after West Ham drew in Chelsea in April 2018
"The story of Rice's redemption has gone to the starting point," said the West Ham website, at the time, at the age of nineteen, who admitted he was glad he had made a statement frustrating Chelsea as part of a central defense to three.
"I came back here after being released by Chelsea at 14 and five years later I played for West Ham in the Premier League," Rice said. "Sunday was a crazy day and my family and I are very proud of it.
"Coming to Chelsea as a child, reaching the club at seven and leaving at 2pm, I don't think I have to prove anything, but today I felt like I came back and made a statement and was happy with my performance."
Now, 12 months later, forced to make his way in Manuel Pellegrini's plans at West Ham, Rice is preparing for another trip to Stamford Bridge, this time as England's national team with great hopes of becoming Gareth Southgate's team for the League of Nations Finals this summer.
And while asking to end the season at the top, Rice's emergence also raises the question of whether Chelsea will regret, or already regret, her decision to let him go.
Rice would have done well to fight the defensive midfielder-position of Golo Kante at Chelsea last season, while this Maurizio Sarri campaign has rarely moved away from Jorginho's selection in that role.
But as a natural central defender, could Rice rival David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger? 22-year-old Andreas Christensen has only played three Premier League games this season, and promising 18-year-old midfielder Ethan Ampadu is just five years old in all competitions, suggesting that Rice would need some luck to defend well .
The struggles that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have faced in their attempts to break into the starting XI with Sarri on a regular basis also show the output of Rice's Chelsea and the subsequent passage to West Ham a blessing is shown in what is no longer a disguise.
"It's their loss. Now you are an exceptional boy!" teammate Ryan Fredericks told Rice on West Ham's YouTube channel last month – and Monday, Rice will have another chance to show how expensive a loss can be.
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