Declan Rice wins Ireland's Young Player of the Year award
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Declan Rice wins Ireland's Young Player of the Year award

DECLAN RICE has been named the Irish FA’s Player of the Year.

The FAI confirmed that Rice, who recently switched allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England, has won the Young Player of the Year award at the annual FAI International Awards.

Rice picked up three senior caps for the Republic in 2018, featuring for Ireland in friendlies against Turkey, France and USA.

The West Ham midfielder opted out of Martin O’Neill’s squads for a series of competitive fixtures in the newly-formed UEFA Nations League last autumn.

He then announced his intention to declare for England last month, following a period of protracted uncertainty around the matter.

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Despite attracting criticism and controversy for his delayed decision, Rice nevertheless earned enough votes to claim the Young Player of the Year award for 2018.

The FAI explained that the award was voted on by members of the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland at a time when Rice was still an Irish international.

"At the time of the vote, Declan Rice was an Ireland international and qualified for the Young Player category in a year that saw him win three senior caps, all in '3' International Friendly games," an FAI statement read.

"Declan Rice has since opted to switch his allegiance to England. The FAI has completed his international transfer via the FIFA protocols and wishes him well in the future.

"This award maintains the integrity of the voting process in conjunction with the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland and the FAI thanks the jury members for their decisions relating to the awards.

"Declan Rice will not be in Dublin for the '3' FAI International Awards ceremony."

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Rice will not be in Dublin to collect the award.