West Ham’s legendary former academy director Tony Carr believes Declan Rice has all the attributes to “emulate” Frank Lampard.
Rice has risen to meteoric prominence since bursting onto the scene with West Ham in 2017, making just shy of 200 appearances for the club, earning his status as vice-captain at just 23 and now becoming a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England midfield.
The combative midfield general has once again been included in the Three Lions squad for this month’s round of international brush-ups, starting with Switzerland on Saturday, before Ivory Coast visit Wembley next week, where Rice could earn caps No. 28 and 29.
And Carr, the central figure for West Ham’s famed ‘Academy of Football’ during a time when stars like Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe were rising through the ranks, believes Rice has the capacity to follow in the footsteps of another academy gem.
“There are many similarities between Frank [Lampard] and Dec”, Carr told The Sun.
“Passing, vision, passion, dedication and fitness. And humility. They both have it in abundance.
“The only thing missing for Declan is Frank would score 20 goals a season.
“But to be a true all-round midfielder, Dec has to chip in with at least eight to ten every campaign.
“He has some way to go but is heading in the same direction as Frank. It’s a target to emulate Frank’s achievements and become a legend in his own right.”
The Bow-born former striker played a huge part in snapping up Rice in 2013 after he left Chelsea’s academy, making another tangible impression on the club’s storied youth ranks before he left West Ham in 2016.
And despite his scouting intuition, Carr admits it’s hard to gauge the full potential of precocious up-and-comers like Lampard and Rice during their formative years in the sport.
He added: “It’s hard to see what players will achieve at 15 or 16.
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“At that age you could never have known Frank was going to be Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer.
“But when Dec first arrived, he had some outstanding traits.
“He could pass, didn’t need many touches to see the bigger picture and had a top attitude.
“Dec was always on the front foot and was eager to learn.
“But Dec and Frank both had leadership qualities.
“They were never afraid to take possession, even if they were 2-0 down with the crowd on their backs.
“They always wanted the ball and to get involved.
“David Moyes has seen that in Dec, and handed him the West Ham captaincy, when Mark Noble doesn’t play.”