Former Chelsea youth player Declan Rice has disclosed he has patterned his playing style on Blues great John Terry after switching to a centreback role for his current club West Ham.
In an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Hammers last season, Rice, who moved to West Ham’s academy in 2014 from Chelsea’s, remained a beacon of light and was named the club’s Young Player of the Year. In his senior career at West Ham, the versatile Irish international has alternated between a defensive midfield and centrehalf role.
Growing up, Rice mentioned that Joe Cole, a former Blues attacker, was his idol but his switch into the centreback position saw him consider Terry, who had a glittering near two-decade spell at Stamford Bridge, as a player from whom he could mould his play style.
“John Terry was probably my next hero,” Rice said in a statement posted on the Hammers’ official website. “Just watching him as a youngster, it probably started when I was about eleven or 12. I watched the way he played, his leadership skills, the way he handled himself and the way he gave 100 percent to everything he did, and I aspired to be the same.”
“When I moved from midfield to centreback, I started watching more clips of him and he’s probably the biggest hero of mine and I definitely feel like I’ve taken parts of his game and tried to put them into mine. He was a ball-playing centrehalf, but he didn’t want to bring the ball out of defence that often.”
“His overall game was outstanding. You couldn’t tell if he was left or right-footed and it made me want to be two-footed, which is so important in the game these days. His level of commitment, throwing his head in front of things, his communication and leadership skills were what I really liked about him. He left everything on the pitch.”
Terry is considered one of the finest centrebacks England has ever produced and enjoys cult-like status among Blues fans even after departing the club in 2017. The ex-England skipper is currently without a club after spending last season with Aston Villa in the Championship.