19-year-old West Ham United defender Declan Rice has stated his overwhelming admiration and appreciation for his club captain and role model Mark Noble.
Speaking in an exclusive question and answer video for West Ham’s Official Website, the Irish youngster had this to say about the one-club man and Academy of Football product Noble when asked about who his Hammers idol was growing up,
“Mark Noble always stood out obviously as captain and as a leader, coming to West Ham I never thought I would be where I am now at this age.
“And to be training with him, someone who’s played in the Premier League over 300 times and even speaking to him every day, it still don’t feel real, but no, I look up to Nobes and he looks after me”, proclaimed Rice.
The Irons U23s captain has recently made the transition from the Development Squad to becoming a first-team squad regular, making his debut as an 18-year-old in an away win over Burnley on the final day of the 2016/2017 season.
Since then, the versatile starlet, who can play either a centre-back, full-back or even in central midfield, has never looked back, becoming a fixture in the club’s starting Xl at the beginning of the 2017/2018 campaign under then boss Slaven Bilic.
In total, the former Chelsea youth man has now amassed 23 appearances in Claret & Blue in all competitions this term, 17 of those coming in the English Top-Flight.
In doing so, the No41 has looked at home playing with and against players that are much his senior, often earning rave reviews and even a call-up to the Republic of Ireland National Team at the start of the campaign.
His skipper Noble has helped him settle onto the first-team where he has built up impressive partnerships with fellow teammates on and off the pitch, climatizing well to the different positions he has been tried out in by new manager David Moyes.
The former Young Hammer of the Year winner‘s finest hour, as admired by himself in the light-hearted video, came at Wembley Stadium at the very start of 2018.
Rice was thrown in at the deep end in an away game against Tottenham Hotspur in a back five, one of his tasks being to mark England star Harry Kane, widely regarded as one of the world’s best strikers at the moment.
The charge was not only able to keep Kane at bay on a number of occasions, but also put in a near flawless display that earned him his first Premier League Man of the Match award.
In addition to this, on the rare occasion that the youngster has made mistakes on the big stage, such as in losses at St James’ Park and the Etihad Stadium, he has learned from them and was always able to come back stronger from them.
With the departure of fellow back four-member Jose Fonte to Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang and serious injuries to the likes of defensive midfielder Pedro Obiang.
The Academy product is more than likely to continue on playing a pivotal role in his team’s bid for Top-Flight survival in the final few months of the campaign, the East London side are 13th and only three points above the bottom three ahead of this Saturday’s crucial trip to the Liberty Stadium.