“We called it a skills test because that’s what the players, including Declan Rice, thought it was,” said Trevor Bumstead, a former West Ham United youth coach. “But it was about patience, determination.”
Eight stations were set up around the stadium. Club boys under the age of 15 were given a ball and told to work around the circuit until all work has been completed.
They had to roll their ball into the corner from the corner of the corner at one station, with their left foot and right.
For others, they had to shoot with circles set on the corners of the net or take shortcuts or driveways toward the target.
And it was at these times. Declan Rice showed perseverance and hard work in improving him that saw him develop into a key England midfielder to enter Euro 2020.
Also, the outstanding Premier League talent was reportedly over £ 80m.
“There was some special skill in it,” Bumstead said.
“He would come back and with the ball. But he used to check very quickly what he did wrong and fix it.
Declan Rice would always win as he was very competitive.
“It was about: Can you continue doing it? Who will continue to persevere? So that was part of the competition. And Declan would always win those. He was very competitive.”
That competitive fire, it seems, comes from a great love of the game.
By the time he enrolled at Grey Court School in Ham, London, at 11. Rice was already a Chelsea academic player, the club he grew up supporting.
His thirst for the ball was not satisfied. He insisted on representing his school and his team on the same day.
Every Tuesday evening, Rice would play the full game of Gray Court. After which, his mother, Theresa, would pick him up, hand him his Chelsea kit.
And a bathtub of pasta before taking him to train at the club’s Cobham academy.
“In addition, he always wanted to play in every minute of every game. Even though he was still playing games at Chelsea,” recalls Steve Wigmore, a Rice PE teacher and football coach at Grey Court.
Declan Rice was a great player.
“He was really a great player, and so was his performance too. He was a midfielder who played everything. And he was always up and down, left and right foot he could do it all.”
Wigmore recalls having to put Rice 10 minutes into the local derby against Orleans Park School because he had already scored four goals.
“It was very easy for him. And it didn’t even bother me to keep him going,” said the teacher.
And while Rice shone in the game with Croydon’s Whitgift School. Which was listed with the boys in the Chelsea and Crystal Palace books, Wigmore says he “knows you have a special player.”
Martin Taylor, a former scout coordinator at Chelsea, saw Rice’s great power at the time, too.
“I have seen him as a player who could play at a high level because of his passion,” said Taylor. “Nothing bothers him. He has a winning mentality.
Declan Rice was sitting like a rock in the middle of the pitch and winning.
“He was sitting like a rock in the middle of the pitch winning. And he was winning the ball, splitting it, winning, not a talented player.
“He had never done anything normal. But what he was doing is that he was doing well. So you could always see he would play at a good level.”
But at the age of 14, Rice was physically behind his peers. However, he was a brilliant and strong footballer.
Unfortunately, he was down and lacked the game of Chelsea’s best hopes. The group released him.
The news that his childhood club had released him was ridiculous, taking him away from the place he was most famous for.
Not to Mason Mount, who is now his best friend. And he set his dream of moving on to Stamford First Bridge Club.
Despite the bitter rejection, Rice welcomed Chelsea’s decision and reiterated his decision.
Coming back quickly, he coached for a while with Fulham before signing West Ham.
“There has been a lot of searching for him,” recalls Dave Hunt, head of educational employment at West Ham.
“When he had appeared in under 14. I was shocked at the time. But quickly found him the next day. That was quick. I talked to him the next day, and he came in this week.
“Yes, it always becomes very difficult for any player to be released by the team that they always support. But in Rice’s usual way, he just kept going.
Declan Rice never blamed anyone or hold a grudge.
“He never blamed anyone. And he didn’t hold a grudge. He just used it as a way to keep growing.”
Vashon Neufville, a defender who played with Rice at Chelsea before the two met at West Ham, recalls: “I was shocked to hear that he had been released.
“When he arrived at West Ham. He just came out of training one day, and we just started smiling and meeting. He was angry at first, but he just took it and put it on his chin and went on.”
Rice quickly settled in West Ham, became part of the first meal of the new club program. Then, he left the family home to live in London apartments and joined the Robert Clack School in Dagenham.
He impressed his new coaches with his hard work and dedication on the field and his empathy and selflessness.
Recalls Hunt, “he called me and said, ‘Dave, I think you’re struggling.
You’re crying. Can you come and see him?’ Things like that he didn’t have to do as a 15, 16-year-old.
“I looked back on the Under-23 Premier League 2 final in 2017. When we could beat Newcastle at the St. James’ Park.
He was a young West Ham fan, aged five or six.
He was out in the game. There was a young West Ham fan there, aged five or six.
“As soon as the game was won. He and his teammate Dan Kemp turned and jumped on the hoardings, ran upstairs. And they handed the boy their shin pads.
“Being able to bring the game to a final like that. And then have the humility to make a little boy’s day was a big thing for me.”
However, while Rice’s technical talent and mental strength were evident. The physical anxiety that led to his release by Chelsea continued in his early years at West Ham.
“He was underweight, wet, thin,” Bumstead said. “Nothing like today. He had some things about him that we liked.
“He was very confident. And he already had some leadership skills at the time. He was a good decision-maker. But he struggled to make ends meet due to a lack of fitness.
“We loved his personality. And the personality that was very important to us at the time. We were looking for guys who made good decisions. And we weren’t too worried about the physical absence; we knew that was coming.”
As the dynamic growth began, Rice’s progress accelerated.
As the dynamic growth began, Rice’s progress accelerated. International recognition reached the under-16 stage, where, by his grandchildren.
He represented the Republic of Ireland who would play three old friendly matches before moving to England.
And at club level, the level of physical strength eventually enabled him to isolate himself from his peers as a powerful hope.
“From the age of 16 to 18, he already had started to grow well in footballing,” Neufville said.
“He was always a professional player, and he is very talented with the ball. However, he wasn’t always fast, so he started getting a game to play his role better.”
Bumstead says: “I remember the time of the team playing the Under-16 tournament in Denmark. We won the match. He was outstanding.
“We had Reece Oxford in that team. And Reece was said to be the next big thing. He was already the captain of our Under-23 squad. But Declan was a great player on this trip.
“Moreover, that was a good chance for Declan Rice. To change in the second half of that year. People started to pay less attention to him, and he started gaining momentum with his game. He started making a mark in the games.
Even after the success of his first team in the 2017-18 season, Rice refused to stay in his comfort zone.
Declan Rice has now successfully established himself as one of the best midfielders.
He has established himself as one of the best midfielders to receive the best football in the Premier League.
And this season, he is showing remarkable improvement in his ability. To encourage movement from deep positions by advancing and driving runs.
As the 22-year-old is set to be England’s hope of success in the summer European Championship.
During his rise, those who have worked closely with Rice are confident that his developmental momentum will not reach his limit any time soon.
“The players with comparatively more talent than him do not get where he’s going to.” In addition, Taylor suggested, “it is just because they don’t have the character and the desire that he has.”
“In coaching,” concludes Bumstead. “We talk a lot of things about having outstanding qualities. But, unfortunately, Declan is not of technical quality.
“His personality, determination, and personality. That’s why he will be the best player as his career progresses.”