Former Irish internationals Kevin Kilbane and Niall Quinn have hit out at the FAI for giving the Young Player Of the Year award to Declan Rice.
After playing three senior international friendlies for Ireland, Rice announced his decision to swap allegiances and play for England.
The West Ham midfielder said it was “the toughest decision I have had to make so far in my career”.
The FAI announced yesterday that Rice had won the award, which is voted for by members of the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland, with a statement reading: “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.
“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”
Kilbane and Quinn have since hit out at Rice winning the award
“Just scrap the award if there’s nobody else,” Kilbane said. “We are struggling for underage players, we know that. Scrap the award. Don’t have the award.
“I think it’s an embarrassment, personally. We’ve been embarrassed enough as it is.
“If we’re going down this road now… Don’t get me started on it. There’s too much to talk about. Let’s just leave it.
“I think we have to move on from it. He’s gone. He’s an English player now. He is English, He’s declared for them. That’s it, thanks very much.”
Kilbane has hit out at the situation previously on Twitter. When Rice announced his decision to play for England, the former full-back wrote: “If you’re a “proud Englishman” then why play for us in the first place?”
“I thought somebody was messing with me.”
“Just give it to the guy in 2nd and forget about Declan Rice!”
“Just scrap the award! It’s embarrassing!”
Quinn was equally bemused by the announcement, saying he thought “someone was messing” with him when he heard it first.
“I heard subsequently that to keep voting system regular they had to deliver the answer that was given by the journalists on the panel,” stated Quinn. “But I don’t think that’s true at all.
“They should give it to the guy in second and forget about Declan Rice forever.
“I just feel it’s a really strange thing to have to put up with as a fan.”
Reports in England suggest that Rice is in line to be named in his first England squad later today.