By Peter Lynch

26th Mar, 2023 | 10:10am

Stan Collymore thrilled for West Ham United ace Declan Rice, 'massive two fingers' stuck up at critics

West Ham star Declan Rice has stuck a “massive two fingers” up at his critics with his goal in England’s 2-1 victory over Italy on Thursday (23 March), according to pundit Stan Collymore.

The midfielder netted the opening goal of the Euro 2024 qualifying match in Naples, with Harry Kane also scoring for the Three Lions in the impressive win.

Rice recently defended criticism from pundit Graeme Souness that he does not score enough goals, with Collymore delighted for the West Ham man’s silencing of the former Scotland international.

“As for Rice, I was thrilled that he scored the first goal in the Three Lions’ 2-1 win after the recent criticisms, led by Graeme Souness, that he doesn’t score enough goals,” Collymore wrote in the Sunday People (26 March, page 58).

“He’s a defensive midfielder for crying out loud, scoring goals isn’t his job, so that was a massive two fingers up to all those who’ve derided him.”

Silencing the critics

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Rice answered his critics in fine fashion against Italy, not only by scoring the opening goal but by picking up the Player of the Match award.

He impressed with his energy and grit in midfield as usual, but also showed great composure to turn the ball home when it fell to him inside the Italy box early on in the match.

Recent criticism of the West Ham captain has been baseless, with Rice shining for his club once again this season despite their disappointing campaign as a whole.

As pointed out by former Liverpool and England striker Collymore, one of the last tasks on Rice’s long list is finding the back of the net, with Gareth Southgate relying on his midfielder when it comes to tackling, tracking runners and keeping possession.

But that is not to say that the Hammers player does not know how to find the net when called upon, as he showed against a highly-talented Italy backline.