Declan’s Rice excitement and sense of anticipation was palpable as he sat down for his first interview after becoming an Arsenal player.
The England international midfielder, who joined from West Ham United in a high-profile transfer on Saturday, spoke about his joy at signing, outlined his reasons for making the move, discussed the influence of Mikel Arteta 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 the second part to follow soon.
on joining Arsenal:
First of all I just want to say a massive thank you to all the Arsenal fans for the support so far. It’s been overwhelming - there’s been a lot going on, a lot of speculation for months. But obviously as a player, you want to get things dealt with as quickly as possible, so you’re settled.
Today I’ve had my first day and I’m feeling really at home.
on the past few weeks:
It’s 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, amazing opportunities arise. Big clubs, like Arsenal, have come for me and it’s really hard to turn down.
You only ever get one career and I really believe in what Mikel is building here and the squad he’s building. I’m really looking forward to the future with Arsenal.
on why he made the move:
I’ve been looking at Arsenal over the last couple of seasons and the trajectory they’ve been going on. Not last season but the season before, they finished fifth but you could see the style of play Mikel was implementing. Last season was an outstanding season, 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 to where they belong, that means a lot to me. I know the fans really want that. For me as a player, I’ve come here really hungry to have more success and to 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 only as a coach, but psychologically how good he is with players, how he improves players. He’s a massive factor in the reason why I’ve come here.
I know he’s going to get the best out of me. I know I’ve got more levels to go up in my game, and I feel like he’s the manager to take me to those next levels. I’m really excited to be working with him.
on his view of Arsenal from the outside:
I think even growing up, the history 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 coming up to me in London, you don’t realise how big Arsenal is - but now I do.
Playing against them has always been tough, with the Arsene Wenger way of playing nice football, tiki-taka stuff. Coming to the Emirates has always been really hard. Home games, when I’ve played for West Ham, have always been the games you’ve been up for because it’s been a London rivalry.
One thing about Arsenal is the fans are so passionate. They’re not scared to voice their opinion and rightly so, because this is a massive club. They demand - and us as players should demand that of each other - to push and to be successful again. Those are the main things.
on playing with his England teammates:
Yeah, it’s going to be an honour. There are some unbelievable players I’ve played with at international level and now I get to share those same duties at club level. All of them have spoken so highly about the club - how each and every one of them have improved under the manager. When you hear things like that, you really take it in your stride and listen.
You’ve got players like Saks, who’s now one of the best wingers in the world. There’s Rammers, who is one of the best keepers. You’ve got Whitey at right-back, who was unreal last year. There’s Smith Rowe and so many in the squad. They all speak so glowingly of the club and the direction it’s been going in the last few years, so it’s really exciting.
on playing with Eddie Nketiah again:
I played with Eddie from under-nines to under-14s. We were both released on the same day and it’s crazy where football takes you, your journey. He’s made it through the ranks at Arsenal, I made it through the ranks at West Ham. Now we get to link back up again.
I’ve always loved Eddie, even though we had that little altercation on the pitch before! I’ve always loved him and been close to his family. His dad is a top, top guy who used to come on all the tours with us as kids, so I’m really looking forward to seeing Eddie again and of course the other boys.
on his first impressions:
It’s beautiful, it’s an amazing training ground. You see it in photos, and see people talk 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 you can feel already that you can’t be comfortable here, you have to push yourself to the max. Speaking to the sports science guys and the physios and the demands they have as well, it’s all about winning and all about mentality, which is what I love.
on going to America on tour:
It’s another great chance to see a fanbase in America. I remember when Jack Wilshere was with us [at West Ham], we went to China and he had his own fanbase who were all Arsenal fans! It was crazy, so they are all around the world and it’s a great chance for us to travel and to spend some time with them as well, and also perform in front of them.
We’ve got three fixtures in three great stadiums, so embrace it, pre-season comes around once a year so it’s time to enjoy, get fit and start winning games.
on his message to our supporters:
I just want to say it’s an absolute privilege to be a part of Arsenal Football Club. The history and the players that have played here speak for themselves. And now I have joined, we’ve got some other signings as well, we are looking to get Arsenal back to the big time, back to winning stuff.
You’ve seen over the past few years how well this squad has been with the manager and there is a real feelgood factor around the place. So I’m hungry, I’m ready and I’m going to give everything for this club like I do week in, week out. We’re going to be on some journey, so I’m looking forward to it.
Watch part one of our Declan Rice interview by clicking play on the video above
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