Declan Rice out to ease Premier League pain by winning Euro 2024 with England

Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice believes the only way to recover from not winning the Premier League last season is to secure Euro 2024 success with England.

Rice was an integral part of the Arsenal side that finished just two points behind champions Manchester City following an enthralling title race that ultimately saw the Gunners come up short.

It was Rice’s first season in north London after he joined from West Ham for a club-record £105million last summer and he contributed seven goals and eight assists to Arsenal’s cause.

Declan Rice looks down holding a football
Declan Rice saw Arsenal narrowly miss out on the Premier League title (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Having narrowly missed out on a league winners’ medal, Rice is now expected to be a crucial member of Gareth Southgate’s England squad in Germany this summer.

“I said straight after the end of the season to my mum and dad that the only thing that would get me over not winning the Premier League is winning the Euros,” Rice said ahead of Friday’s final warm-up friendly against Iceland.

“It was really tough to swallow that we missed out by two points but now there’s this beautiful opportunity in front of us to go and do something special.

“To do that I think would be one of the pinnacles of football, to win something for your country. There’s a long way to go, seven big games in a tournament, but full focus on that.”

Rice is joined in the England ranks by club-mates Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka as well as title rivals from City Kyle Walker, John Stones and Phil Foden.

“I think I take a lot from the City boys in that way,” added the former West Ham skipper.

“Whereas I’ve obviously been in my first title race this season and understanding the pressures and the big moments you have to go through. My respect levels were high but they went through the roof in terms of they (City) have won four in a row.

“I’ve been in my first title race and to deliver every week, winning football matches in the Premier League, is so hard and they’ve done that. It’s about that mentality, that shift, and we want to take that now into the summer.

“We have a lot of City boys here, a lot of boys who have played in big-level games. I think we can use that experience and take it into the tournament, which we’re confident of doing.”

At just 25, Rice is the oldest midfield option in Gareth Southgate’s ranks and will pick up his 51st cap in Friday’s final warm-up game against Iceland.

“When I saw the squad earlier, I saw that I was the oldest one. I didn’t really know how to take it, to be honest,” he added.

“Obviously, it’s a midfield packed with excitement, full of energy and five or six players who are ready to go there and give it everything.

“There’s going to be a lot of question marks over the midfield and whether we have that experience.

“I feel like now I’ve gained so much experience over the last two years that I can kind of guide the younger players in a way.”

Rice believes England’s midfield has a bright future as Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton joined him in the squad.

Mainoo, 19, impressed on his senior debut during the March international break having enjoyed a fine breakthrough season at Manchester United that culminated in a goal in the FA Cup final win over Manchester City.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Wharton worked his way into Southgate’s squad having hit the ground running at Crystal Palace following a January move from Blackburn before making his England bow in Monday’s win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I think we saw in the last camp against Belgium and Brazil what Kobbie could do,” said Rice.

Adam Wharton during his England debut
Adam Wharton played his way into the squad after impressing as a substitute (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Obviously the last six months, all season really, what he’s done at Manchester United and he clearly deserves his place in the squad.

“Adam played his first half of the season in the Championship, came to Crystal Palace and has been outstanding.

“I think in training he’s impressed a lot of players – he is so composed and calm on the ball. He’s got a beautiful left foot, just a really down to earth boy, wants to learn.

“I think he’s one of those that doesn’t get fazed by big things. So they are two great additions and the future’s looking bright in midfield.”