Declan Rice expressed his astonishment at being chosen as the England captain for Tuesday’s friendly against Belgium at Wembley, marking his 50th cap milestone.

Declan RIce
Declan Rice

The Arsenal midfielder will lead Gareth Southgate’s team in their final match before Southgate names his 23-man squad for Euro 2024 on May 16.

Join our Telegram Channel for Updates

Join our Telegram Channel for Updates

“I’m left speechless, to be honest with you,” said Rice during a press conference on Monday. “I’m absolutely lost for words. When he [Southgate] told me last night that I would be the captain, I gave him a hug, shook his hand, and said ‘thank you very much.’ I owe him a lot.”

“Since I first joined the team, he has always made me feel at home. I’ve felt comfortable playing under him. I’ve really gained confidence over time, so to be named captain for my 50th cap, to walk out at Wembley in front of my family and friends, it’s an absolute honor. You can see it on my face, I’m speechless.”

“I believe I’ve developed a lot as both a player and a person since I first joined the group at 19. Initially, I was probably a bit nervous, but as time passed, playing more Premier League and high-level games, as well as major tournaments, I’ve grown into my role on the team. I’ve cherished every moment. Fifty caps is truly a surreal moment.”

Rice’s appointment comes amid a series of injuries affecting the squad, with Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, and Sam Johnstone being the latest to withdraw.

Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, and Kieran Trippier are among the absentees, limiting Southgate’s options. Additionally, the proximity of the Euros to the Champions League final, just 13 days apart, could further complicate the situation at the end of the season.

“Our plan this summer is still to allow players time to recover psychologically, which is crucial at that time of the year,” said Southgate, who confirmed that Ivan Toney will lead England’s attack against Belgium in Kane’s absence.