Declan Rice has been nothing short of sensational this season in taking West Ham to the cusp of qualification for European football.
The 22-year-old has led by example through mature performances and continues to set immaculate standards for his country as well. He’s demonstrated excellent leadership skills in the current campaign, and we hope he continues to captain West Ham for a long time.
Rice didn’t develop these skills overnight, though. He’s been lucky to Mark Noble beside him, in and around the club, to show him the ropes and how to conduct yourself as a skipper.
It’s no secret that Noble intends to wind down now. Next season will be his last as a squad member of West Ham, he will be missed dearly. Noble has gracefully taken a backseat with the first team this season, coming off the bench when required.
The truth is, at this stage of his career, Noble is well aware that his role is more than just a squad rotation player. His job now is to leave the club in capable hands once he hangs up his boots, and has spent a lot of time with Rice over the last few years doing so.
Between 2017 and 2020, Noble played in 93 of 114 Premier League games for the Hammers. In the same amount of time, Rice played 98 times. Before this season, the majority of Rice’s West Ham appearances have been alongside Noble.
For the last four years, on the pitch and off the pitch, Noble has been showing Rice the ropes in the background. A lot of the mannerisms you see in Rice’s performances now are down to Noble, and the time he’s taken to nurture him.
Whilst speaking to talkSPORT on Wednesday [19.20], Hammers assistant coach Stuart Pearce confirmed this.
“He’s really fortunate that he’s got a great club captain in Mark Noble above him to help him,” said Pearce.
“He’s been brilliant, a great guiding hand on the shoulder of Declan. Mark’s got a mentality at the moment that his job is not just as a player for West Ham.
“It’s really important that we have schoolmasters, you know? People to just guide at the right times. If you’ve got no one of that ilk in the dressing room, these young kids are left to just listen to the coaches.”
Isn’t that just Nobes in a nutshell? Always putting the club first. He’s aware of what his role is these days, and he seems to be loving it. Hopefully, he can stay with the club in some capacity. It never hurts to have someone around who knows the club from top to bottom.
You don’t come across many footballers like Noble these days. He’s played his whole career at the top and is as loyal as they come. Hopefully, that is another trait that Rice can pick up from him before he retires next season.