Declan Rice tipped to be future England captain as West Ham legend breaks down what makes midfielder so good

WEST HAM legend Julian Dicks says he would be “very surprised” if Declan Rice doesn’t captain England in the future.

Dicks was a Hammers coach under Slaven Bilic when a then 18-year-old Rice was handed his Premier League debut in the 2-1 win over Burnley in 2017.

Rice is West Ham’s captain in Noble’s absenceCredit: REX FEATURES

The 23-year-old is one of Southgate's key men

The 23-year-old is one of Southgate’s key menCredit: GETTY

Rice has since come on leaps and bounds, making 183 appearances for West Ham.

The midfielder, who Dick’s says “keeps everything simple”, is also trusted with the captain’s armband in club legend Mark Noble’s absence.

West Ham, with Rice as captain, recorded a sixth placed finish last term – booking their place in the Europa League.

The academy graduate also captained the side on the night of their historic Round of 16 win at the London Stadium against six-time winners Sevilla.

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But Rice’s exemplary leadership both on and off the pitch has stretched further than just Rush Green and the London Stadium.

Rice is being talked up as a future England captain – even by his international manager Gareth Southgate.

And Hammers icon Dicks too believes that Rice’s day of leading the Three Lions will come.

Speaking to SunSport on whether he thinks Rice will be a future England captain ahead of a Masters Football event in association with Bookmakers.com, Dicks said: “Absolutely. I was a coach at West Ham when Slav gave him his debut. 

“The easiest thing I can say about Declan is he just keeps everything simple.

“He wins the ball and gives it simple. 

“I did the Man Utd vs West Ham game at Old Trafford (this season). 

“And even though West Ham got beat, Declan was immense, and I mean head and shoulders above everybody else on that pitch, in my opinion.

Dicks says Rice was 'head and shoulders' above everyone on the pitch at Old Trafford in January

Dicks says Rice was ‘head and shoulders’ above everyone on the pitch at Old Trafford in JanuaryCredit: GETTY

“He won every ball. Where the ball was he won it and he’d just give it.

“So yeah, I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t an England captain in the future.”

Rice is set to start for England in Tuesday’s friendly against the Ivory Coast.

And he could be handed the captain’s armband with Harry Kane set to be rested.

Rice turned in a good performance against Italy in last summer's Euro final

Rice turned in a good performance against Italy in last summer’s Euro finalCredit: GETTY

Ahead of the game, Southgate confirmed a reshuffle, saying: “We’ll make changes. We think that’s the right thing to do.

“We want to keep all of the squad involved. I think that has been a strength for us.

“Players who come in and perform well at the level need to feel that we’ve got the confidence in them to go into any game.

“We’re also at a stage of the season where their load is heavy and we’ve got to make sure we try and navigate that in the best way possible.”

Dicks has tipped Rice to captain his country

Dicks has tipped Rice to captain his countryCredit: AP

Southgate also hinted Rice could lead England out under the Wembley arch.

The England manager claimed: “[Rice] is right amongst [group of potential captains] despite his age.

“What I have seen this season is the confidence that he has gained from his experience last summer.

Rice is the best ball carrier in the Premier League

Rice is the best ball carrier in the Premier League

“I think he had a huge impact on the game when he came on.

“A really mature performance, strong, breaks the game up so well, but now has more confidence to drive with the ball and bring it forward as well.

“Without a doubt he has all the attributes to be a captain.”

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