Former West Ham star recalls recognising Declan Rice’s “incredible potential” from a young age

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Former West Ham star Jose Fonte has given glowing praise to Declan Rice after his recent rise in the first-team.

Fonte was at West Ham when Rice was still trying to break into the first-team, and he recalls noticing his “incredible potential” early on.

“Incredible potential,” Fonte told talkSPORT. “Everybody acknowledged that he had the potential to go all the way. He was just trying to break into the squad.

“He used to be a centre-back. He trained for us and he would be a centre-back. I never seen him and didn’t expect him to be a midfielder.

“When he started to play consistently in the midfield, and doing so well, he was kind of surprising.

Declan Rice has earned big praise from Jose Fonte

“At centre-back, he was great. I already said that, as a centre-back he has a future already. But fantastic for him, so pleased for Declan, he’s such a great professional, hard-working player and he deserved all the credit that he is getting.”

Rice is now one of the Hammers’ most important players and is increasingly key to the England national team as well.

Now West Ham’s challenge is to keep hold of the 22-year-old as the likes of Manchester United, City and Chelsea make him a top transfer target.

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