Hugh Southon’s Last Word: Humble Rice is starting to look like Moore on and off the pitch

If the squad find themselves really pushing into Europe, Declan will want to be a part of it.

I don’t know Declan Rice. I wish I did because as I watched him give an exuberant interview to Sky Sports before the game against Sheffield United game I felt the smile crossing my face as he responded brilliantly to some keen questioning.

He laughed at the memory of being b*llocked by David Moyes for an early mistake at Arsenal during the boss’ first spell in charge, recalling the hair dryer treatment he received. He said: ‘I was so embarrassed.’

I rarely mention it – and there has to be a very good cause to do so because it sounds flash and unnecessary – but I did know Bobby Moore; worked with him, ghost wrote his columns and liked him immensely. I was always in awe of him.

And very different times though they may be, the careers of born-to-be great Hammers have some interesting similarities – notably as blokes rather than footballers.

The great ‘Is Dec the new Mooro?’ debate goes on but on the pitch Mooro had all the time in the world to do his stuff, Dec is a little more lively and pyrotechnic.

He’s now captain of West Ham and I’m convinced he will captain England – all he needs to do at both levels is win us a Cup and England the old Jules Rimet! Not a lot to ask is it?

Off the pitch, from what I can see of him, he is similar to Bob in character with humility and self depreciation two strong points as they were with the great man.

One thing is for sure, us old time Hammers can count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have seen both of them in action on and off the pitch – they were born to be great Irons.

The younger among you are incredibly fortunate to have the sort of hero we had in Bob in Dec – it’s as it should be, we all need our heroes.

But there’s just one thing that can’t happen – the No 6 shirt must never be brought back. There’s only one Mooro and there will only ever be one Rice.

I spoke with Terry Westley for a Claretandhugh piece and at the start of things with Dec he sent him a ‘stay where you are son’ message.

He explained: ‘His progress since has astonished me. To become captain of the club and a regular in the international squad means he has no reason to be looking for a change of club to achieve his aims at this stage.’

David Moyes is making him central to everything that is happening at West Ham and if the team can continue the progress it is making we could soon be a top six or eight and I believe that will be more than enough to keep him where he is.

David is making it very difficult for Declan to think of being anywhere else than the Hammers right now – everything he is doing is designed to make him feel like the top man and if, as I believe they will, the squad find themselves really pushing into Europe, Declan will want to be a part of it.

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