DAVID GOLD believes English football may have found a new Bobby Moore in Declan Rice.
Midfielder Rice came through a bumpy introduction as an England player after switching from Ireland.
And his chairman at West Ham says he will benefit long-term from the experience.
Rice, 20, earned his first England start against Montenegro on Monday night just four days after historic divisive comments he made on social media about the IRA were unearthed.
Joint-Hammers owner Gold is certain West Ham supporters will be far more focused on having a new hero to honour.
Gold, 82, said: “The important thing is that he didn’t hide from it. He apologised and recognised it as a mistake.
“He has handled it well and now it’s over. He is growing into a man now. He was 14 or 15 when he said those things. We all said silly stuff at that age.
“West Ham supporters will only worry about his performance for England and how these past few days will most definitely be of huge benefit to their club.
“The West Ham fans are craving a new hero and they’ve got one in Declan. He is special, no question about it. He is an England captain of the future in my mind.”
Rice will return to Premier League duty with his club in a Saturday tea-time clash with Everton on the back of a confidence-boosting week and a half with his new England pals.
"Declan is Hammers hero"
He is box-office now but Hammers fans in the know have been raving about Rice for years with his smooth style on the ball and assured demeanour.
Gold added: “He has a long way to go for sure but there are similarities between Declan and Bobby Moore. I saw Bobby when he first turned out at Upton Park.
“After 20 minutes I turned to my brother and said I thought this guy was a bit slow. An hour later I was watching Bobby glide across the pitch.
“Declan is calm, assured. He floats like Bobby Moore did. I also noticed that it didn’t take him long to be yelling at more senior players during the game.
“He grew into the game on Monday night particularly. We must remember he is only 20.
"But this recent experience will really mature him. By this time next year in football terms he will be a 25-year-old.
“He will have gained so much confidence from playing for England.
"The ten goals in two matches will be a massive boost too. He has been accelerated down his career path thanks to a brave decision by the England manager to blood all these youngsters.
“I get it why the tweets were big news. It’s a tetchy subject. But now we move on, it’s over. West Ham fans won’t be interested in silly comments from a silly young man in his teens.
“It’s now about the next stage of his career and being a hero for his club.”
But it has not all been plain-sailing and Gold revealed: “When Declan was substituted in the disastrous first game of our season at Liverpool I sought him out and offered a handshake and reassurance then.
“I will talk to him again now he is back better than ever for West Ham and England.”
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