Euro 2020: England boss Gareth Southgate reveals warning to West Ham star Declan Rice

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West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice giving instructions to his teammates

England manager Gareth Southgate has praised Declan Rice's leadership qualities but admits that he has warned the midfielder about taking on too much responsibility at such a young age.

Despite only turning 22 back in January, Rice has become a key figure at West Ham, captaining the team in 20 matches during the 2020/21 Premier League season.

He was also handed the armband on several occasions in the previous campaign, and Southgate has been impressed by the maturity that Rice has shown in terms of leading by example whether his team have won or lost.

However, he acknowledges that players can put too much pressure on themselves when in a leadership role, and he has revealed that he has spoken to Rice about making sure that he shares responsibilities with his teammates.

Speaking on the High Performance Podcast, Southgate said of Rice: "He's captain of West Ham at 21. This season has been incredible for them, the year before last, not so good. He was out there, out the front at 20, 21 years old and I'm thinking 'where's some of the other players?'

"But what I said to him was, 'Look, these are brilliant experiences for you. I like the fact that you're standing, you feel the responsibility. You're not ducking after a bad performance, you're not looking to push the blame elsewhere. If anything, you've actually taken a bit too much on your shoulders. So keep a balance on that.'

"But I think reinforcing that that's a good thing hopefully encourages him to keep doing it. So it's easy to pick up when people aren't doing those things, isn't it? But if you can find them doing it well, I think that's equally if not more powerful."

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Heading into this summer's European Championships, Rice looks set to play an important role, having started five of the last six games for Southgate's men.

He should not expect to have to be the sole leader in the squad, though, as England have a number of players who are accustomed to taking on responsibility. Harry Kane is the national team captain, while Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire are the current captains of Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Raheem Sterling has also led Manchester City multiple times this year.

Therefore, Rice ought to be able to put into practice what Southgate is saying, as he can lean on other senior players in the dressing room to drive the team forwards. This may then enable him to focus purely on his performances on the pitch, which could benefit himself and the team as a whole this summer.

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