School drama star Declan Rice won’t get stage fright at Euros with England, says his former PE teacher

·3-min read
Declan Rice as a schoolboy and playing for England ( )
Declan Rice as a schoolboy and playing for England ( )

Declan Rice’s former PE teacher has revealed the England midfielder excelled at drama at school — and says the star won’t get stage fright at the Euros.

Rice is expected to start in defensive midfield as the country kicks off its campaign against Croatia on Sunday.

The West Ham star, 22, was born in Kingston and attended Grey Court school in Richmond aged 11 to 14.

He captained the school team where he played a more advanced role and was a prodigious talent who helped the side to multiple league championships.

Declan rice, bottom row second from right, in his Grey court school days
Declan rice, bottom row second from right, in his Grey court school days

The young Rice was known for joking around in the dressing room but he became deadly serious when he walked on the pitch, head of PE Stephen Willmore said.

The teacher has nothing but praise for the attitude, commitment and good humour of his then star player. He told the Standard: “Declan has a great temperament. He liked to joke around in the dressing room. He was confident but not cocky and was always a pleasure to be around.

“He was one of the boys and still is, fame has not changed him one bit. He still has his old group of friends and comes to visit us at the school. He is an amazing role model. On the pitch he is very serious, extremely hard-working and takes responsibility — he is a natural leader.

Rice with close friend Mason Mount (Andy Hooper/Daily Mail)
Rice with close friend Mason Mount (Andy Hooper/Daily Mail)

“He was good at other lessons as well, particularly drama. He was at the time a smallish lad with a big personality. He wouldn’t get stage fright at the Euros. If he was taking a crucial penalty I would bet on him scoring every time. He doesn’t mind being front and centre stage. He’d volunteer to take one.”

His former teacher said that he had scored the “perfect penalty” in a cup semi-final game against Whitgift School from Croydon. He said: “It was a great penalty in the top corner, I can see it clearly in my head as if it was yesterday. What a player!”

Rice has said in the past: “I used to love school football. It was incredible. When I was at Grey Court school we had one of the best teams in the country.”

Mason Mount and Declan Rice as schoolboys in their Chelsea kits
Mason Mount and Declan Rice as schoolboys in their Chelsea kits

The midfielder has an estimated £60 million price tag after starring in recent seasons for West Ham and is best friends with Chelsea star Mason Mount.

Rice, who was with Chelsea’s academy until the age of 14 before moving to West Ham, switched allegiances to England from Ireland in 2019. His paternal grandparents are from Cork and he excelled for Ireland at junior level.

A familiar foe: Likely lining up against England for Croatia will be Chelsea Star Mateo Kovacic

Standing in England’s way when they face Croatia on Sunday will be a familiar face: Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic.

The midfielder, 27, will be cheered on for the game at Wembley by his wife Izabel Andrijanic, 27 known as the “Croatian Shakira” because of her similarities to the singer.

According to LinkedIn, she is chief executive of an eco-friendly baby product business she runs with her sister. She also has a degree from the faculty of economics and business, University of Zagreb.

Kovacic and his wife tied the knot in 2017 in the Croatian village of Sesvetski, where they met.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

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