Declan Rice’s excitement and sense of anticipation was palpable as he sat down for his first interview since becoming an Arsenal player.
The England international midfielder, who joined from West Ham United in a high-profile transfer on Saturday, spoke of his delight at signing, outlined his reasons for moving, discussed Mikel Arteta’s influence in his decision and explained his existing relationship with several of his new teammates among other topics.
Read on for a full transcript of part one of the interview, with part two to follow soon.
on coming to Arsenal:
First of all I just want to say a big thank you to all the Arsenal fans for the support so far. It’s been overwhelming – there’s been a lot, a lot of speculation going on for months. But it is clear that as a player you want to get things resolved as quickly as possible so that you are settled.
Today I had my first day and I really feel at home.
in the last few weeks:
It has been a bit overwhelming because of my relationship with West Ham. [With] the love and support I have for them, it’s been really hard to walk away. In football, fantastic opportunities arise. Big clubs, like Arsenal, have come after me and it’s really hard to say no.
You only get one career and I really believe in what Mikel is building here and the team he is building. I am really looking forward to the future with Arsenal.
on why he took the step:
I have looked at Arsenal over the last few seasons and the run they have been on. Not last season, but the season before, they finished fifth, but you could see the style of play that Mikel implemented. Last season was an excellent one, blowing pretty much every team out of the water with the exception of Man City.
With Mikel and how he works, the squad, how young everyone is, the energy around the club and also the challenge of getting Arsenal back where they belong, it means a lot to me. I know the fans really want it. For me as a player, I have come here really hungry to be more successful and spend my best years at this great club.
on working with Mikel Arteta:
I’m so excited – he speaks for himself. You see how he works – you got a real insight into how he works on the Amazon documentary, how he works with his players and not just as a coach, but psychologically, how good he is with players, how he improves players. He is a big factor in why I came here.
I know he will get the best out of me. I know I have more levels to go up in my game and I feel he is the manager to take me to the next levels. I am really excited to work with him.
on his view of Arsenal from the outside:
I think even growing up, the story of Arsenal – you always hear about the Invincibles, the famous game at Anfield, you see these things all the time. I’ve always known Arsenal as a big club, but when I’ve been on holiday and had people come to me in London, you don’t understand how big Arsenal are – but now I do.
Playing against them has always been tough, with the Arsene Wenger way of playing nice football, tiki-taka stuff. It has always been very difficult to get to the Emirates. Home games when I’ve played for West Ham have always been the games you’ve been up to because it’s been a London rivalry.
One thing about Arsenal is that the fans are so passionate. They are not afraid to speak their mind and rightly so because this is a huge club. They demand – and we as players should demand from each other – to push on and be successful again. Those are the most important things.
on playing with his England teammates:
Yes, it will be an honor. There are some incredible players I have played with at international level and now I get to share the same duties at club level. They have all spoken so highly of the club – how each and every one of them has improved under the manager. When you hear this kind of thing, you really take it easy and listen.
You have players like Saks, who is now one of the best wingers in the world. There is Rammers, who is one of the best goalkeepers. You have Whitey at right back who was unreal last year. There is Smith Rowe and so many in the squad. They all speak so passionately about the club and the direction it’s gone in the last few years, so it’s really exciting.
on playing with Eddie Nketiah again:
I played with Eddie from under nine to under 14. We were both released on the same day and it’s crazy where football takes you, your journey. He made it through the ranks at Arsenal, I made it through the ranks at West Ham. Now we get the link up again.
I’ve always loved Eddie, even though we had that little row on the pitch before! I have always loved him and been close to his family. His dad is a top, top guy who used to come on all the trips with us as kids, so I’m really looking forward to seeing Eddie again and of course the other boys.
on his first impression:
It’s beautiful, it’s a great training ground. You see it in pictures and see people talking about it, you walk around and see the history on the wall with Arsenal. It just makes you hungry to push, to demand more of yourself.
What I like about the place is that you can already feel that you cannot thrive here, you have to push yourself to the max. When I talk to the sports science guys and the physios and the demands they have as well, it’s about winning and about mentality, which I love.
about going to America on tour:
It’s another great chance to see a fan base in America. I remember when Jack Wilshere was with us [at West Ham], we went to China and he had his own fan base who were all Arsenal fans! It was crazy so they’re all over the world and it’s a great chance for us to travel and spend some time with them as well and perform in front of them as well.
We have three games in three fantastic stadiums so embrace it, pre-season comes once a year so it’s time to enjoy, get fit and start winning games.
on his message to our followers:
I just want to say that it is an absolute privilege to be part of Arsenal Football Club. The history and the players who have played here speak for themselves. And now I’ve come to, we’ve got some other signings as well, we’re looking to get Arsenal back to the big time, back to winning things.
You’ve seen over the last few years how well this team has been with the manager and there’s a real feel-good factor around the place. So I’m hungry, I’m ready and I’ll give everything for this club, as I do week in, week out. We’re going on some trip, so I’m looking forward to it.
Watch the first part of our Declan Rice interview by clicking play on the video above
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