It was the night when Harry Kane broke the all-time England scoring record, and in so doing he probably took the headlines from team-mate, Declan Rice, who rammed recent criticism of his style of play back down the throats of those that had the audacity to criticise him in the first place.
Winning in Italy for the first time in decades isn’t to be sniffed at, and the result was as much down to West Ham captain Rice’s performance as any other.
As The Independent reported a day before the game, Sky Sports pundits, Graeme Souness and Roy Keane, had suggested that Rice was lacking in the goalscoring and passing departments, comments that the player was quoted as saying were “harsh.”
“I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week,” Rice noted per The Independent.
“There’s loads of West Ham fans, 60,000 go every week, and see what I do. So I think to say I’m only good at one of three is harsh but Souness was a top midfielder, a top player and when someone like him speaks you have to sometimes listen and take on board where you can improve if that’s true. And obviously Roy as well.
“Roy has said some glowing things about me in the past but also sometimes he’s also said some things that he thinks I can improve on as well. It’s one of those things you take with a pinch of salt and try not to let it affect you too much. I can take criticism on the chin quite well so if it is that way I will listen to it to see where I can improve.”
Perhaps that was on his mind as he gave a match-winning performance for the Three Lions in Naples, capping a fine display with a goal to set Gareth Southgate’s side on the road to victory.
As can be seen by the graphic below, the midfielder had a sensational night in all aspects of his game.
Declan Rice's game by numbers vs. Italy:
86% pass accuracy
10 x possession won
5 passes into final ?
Contributing all over the pitch. ? pic.twitter.com/9nODvRLvgi
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) March 23, 2023
Against some of the best players in European football, Rice gave a superb account of himself, and it’s when he plays like this that it’s no wonder the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are reported to be interested in his services.
The Guardian suggested that Arsenal are his ‘likely’ destination, with Football Insider believing that the Red Devils could gazump the Londoners.
After such a high-profile showing against the Azzurri, there may well be other suitors queueing up for the 24-year-old now. A busy summer awaits.
If at all they really know a lot about football,management or coaching is what they are meant to be into instead of punditry sat in a studio talking nonsense and making blind analysis that makes one wonder if these pundits were former pro. Footballers.