DECLAN RICE has been branded “Judas” and a “snake” after ditching the Republic of Ireland for England.
The West Ham midfielder faced a torrent of abuse on social media as angry fans reminded him he kissed the Ireland badge while winning three senior caps.
Rice, 20, made a lengthy statement on Twitter, saying his switch had been “extremely difficult” as “I consider myself to be of mixed nationality”.
But that outpouring sparked scorching criticism from Irish fans.
One supporter tweeted: “He kissed the badge, he wore the green but now he’ll sing God Save The Queen. Declan Rice, Judas in disguise.”
Another accused the 20-year-old of “zero integrity”.
That fan added: “Hopefully England realise this and leave him to smoulder.
“How you can freely kiss a national team badge then declare for another national team is beyond me.”
Some claimed such sniping was hypocritical because the Republic have recruited former Norther Ireland youth stars like Brighton defender Shane Duffy and Stoke winger James McClean.
And one supporter tweeted: “How have the UK ‘got’ Declan Rice from Ireland when he’s British and has never lived in the Republic of Ireland in his entire life?”
Rice, though, still came under a barrage of blistering comments – with many accusing him of using the Republic to gain “recognition” and boost his status.
But England legend Gary Lineker faced all this down with a cheeky taunt.
The Match of the Day presenter tweeted: “He’s one of our own… He’s one of our own… Declan Rice.. he’s one of our own.”
Rice, who landed a huge new £300,000-a-week Hammers deal last December. claimed he had anguished over his decision.
He tweeted “I telephoned both Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate to inform them of my decision to submit a written request to Fifa for the transfer of my international registration from the Republic of Ireland to England.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision and, in all honesty, not one I ever expected to be making at this stage of my career..
“In recent weeks and months, I have discussed the situation with my parents, my family, my girlfriend and my closest friends. I have also spoken to Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy, Gareth Southgate and to friends and colleagues within the game whose opinion I respect. I am truly grateful for the support I have received in leading to this decision.”
“Like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality.
“I am a proud Englishman, having been born and raised in London. However, I am just as proud of my family’s Irish heritage and my affinity and connection with the country.
“I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection. Particularly not for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position.
“Ultimately it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.
“I fully accept that some Irish supporters will be disappointed by my decision, and that everyone has different opinions in regard to the rules around international representation.
“I would also like to make it clear that, in requesting to transfer my national team representation, I am not taking for granted a call-up to the England squad or making any assumption about my future international career.
“I am still only 20 years old and there is a long road ahead for me. For now, my focus remains entirely on establishing myself as a Premier League player with West Ham United and working as hard as possible to improve and be successful.”
McCarthy responded: “Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him.”
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