West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has revealed that he turned his phone off in an attempt to shield his family from any backlash following his decision to switch national team allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England last month.
The 20-year-old had represented the Green Army in three international friendlies against Turkey, France and the United States in 2018, yet chose to make himself available for selection for the Three Lions ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign which begins at the end of March.
After releasing a statement on his official Twitter account explaining his decision, the in-form Irons midfielder received negative responses from Irish supporters who questioned the timing of the switch after Rice had represented the country at youth levels.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, the West Ham academy graduate opened up about his choice to pick England over Ireland, declaring: "We were out in Marbella when I made the decision.
"I called both [Republic of Ireland manager] Mick [McCarthy] and Gareth and once I made the two phone calls and set up the statement I just turned off the phone because I knew it would be pinging with loads of messages, texts, social media and I knew I had to take myself away from it while I was away.
"I didn’t really read much about it and told my family not to look because there was always going to be some backlash and I didn’t want them reading that. I’m just looking at the positives and to the future.
"It’s been difficult because I’m the youngest in the family. Mum and dad are always looking out for me, they just want the best for me.
"Making the decision, they were worried about the backlash. Whether they did look or not, that was up to them, but they are proud and I stick by my decision."
Rice's form for the Hammers this season has been outstanding with the midfielder featuring on 25 occasions in the Premier League as a defensive midfielder, having been converted to the position from a defender by manager Manuel Pellegrini.
The youngster scored his second goal of the season in West Ham's 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday at the London Stadium, and is in line for his first England call-up at the end of March for Southgate's side's games against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.