Declan Rice calls Arsenal transfer 'tough decision' and says playing vs West Ham will be 'unusual' in emotional message | The Sun

DECLAN RICE has penned an emotional letter to West Ham fans after leaving the East Londoners for Arsenal.

The England midfielder has finally sealed his protracted £105million switch to the Emirates.

Rice, 24, succeeded Mark Noble as West Ham skipper after coming through the club's academy.

He went on to become just the third captain in Hammers history to lift a major trophy when his side won the Europa Conference League last term.

Following his West Ham exit, Rice penned a lengthy statement, recalling his time in the club's academy as well as his early days in the first team.

He went on to thank a number of his former coaches, as well as Noble himself.


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Rounding off his message, which was posted on West Ham's official website, Rice dedicated a special mention to their supporters – admitting that it will be "unusual" to play against them.

He said: "Finally, my last thank-you must go to you, the supporters. The loyal, passionate, devoted, at times hilarious, and always honest Hammers, who are massive everywhere you go…!

"You have taken me into your hearts as one of your own from day one. Even when it was just a handful of fans at the Under-18 or Under-23 games, I felt that love, and it has just grown stronger as the years have passed.

"Playing in front of you has been an honour, we have had such great times together, and you all mean so much to me.

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"I want you to know how tough a decision it has been for me to leave an environment that I have loved and cherished so much. Ultimately, though, it has only ever been about my ambition to play at the very highest level of the game.

"Playing on the opposite team to West Ham for the first time will be an unusual experience. I’m not sure yet exactly how I will feel, but I also know you will all understand and respect that my professional loyalties have to now lie with my new Club.

"I will always give 100 per cent every single time I pull on the shirt – because that is how I have been brought up at West Ham, and I’m sure you wouldn’t expect anything else.

"However, that does not mean my love and respect for you all has been diminished in any way. This Club and its supporters will always be in my heart, and forever a part of who I am.

"What we shared together in Prague last month, and in the celebrations that followed at Upton Park and Stratford the next day, will never, ever be forgotten. The first major trophy of my career is something that means so, so much to me.

"If there is one thing I have learned in my career so far, it’s that there are no guarantees in football. All you can do is work as hard as possible, try to be the best person you can be, and try to take the opportunities that present themselves.

"If you are lucky, you make some good memories along the way… and I have made so many at West Ham United.

"Thank you to everyone here who has contributed to my journey along the way."

Rice becomes Arsenal's third addition of a busy summer.

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Mikel Arteta's side sealed a £65m deal for Chelsea misfit Kai Havertz last month.

While they announced the arrival of Ajax defender Jurrien Timber for a fee in the region of £40m yesterday.

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