Even now, Declan Rice does not know exactly why Chelsea fired him.

In a parallel universe, he is one of four graduates of the Blues Academy in the English squad of Gareth Southgate.

    Declan Rice dreams of fame with the Three Lions

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Declan Rice dreams of fame with the Three LionsPicture credits: Reuters

Instead, Rice was released at age 14 and forced to take a different route to his old friends Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.

The 20-year-old West Ham midfielder said, "It was a massive shock. I just broke down because that was all I knew since I was eight.

"We asked why and they said," You have to come to a meeting "that we booked – and then they canceled it.

"So we did not figure out why."

Rice suspects that Chelsea had doubts about him because a growth spurt devastated his coordination.

He said, "I was like Bambi on ice – I was everywhere. My body was just not used to itself, so I did not walk right. "

But there was no time to deal with the big setback.

Less than four hours after learning that Chelsea did not want him, Rice made his first steps on the road to fame.

He said, "I was released around 4:30, cried in my eyes for about an hour, was gutted, and did not know what to say.

"Then we had a call from Dan Rice in Fulham – no relationship – and I went and trained at seven.

"After a session, they wanted to sign me. That was on Wednesday.

"Then Dave Hunt from West Ham called my dad.

"My father drove me to Chadwell Heath and I trained with West Ham on Thursday.

"After two sessions they wanted to sign me.

"Then it was pretty much a decision, would I like to stay in Kingston and train in Fulham in five minutes, or am I going to West Ham and have a new challenge?

"Move away from home, start a new school – and that's the way I chose it, and it has not been bad yet."

However, his move to the Hammers did not go smoothly at the beginning.

Rice said, "I was homesick. I thought about stopping sometime when I was about 15 or 16.

"I called my mother. I really had problems because I was so close to my mother and father. "

But Rice got to know life in the clubhouse, run by a couple named Bob and Val, whose former subtenants included the future English stars Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe.

Rice made his first team breakthrough in 2017/18, moved from the Republic of Ireland to England and is now reunited with Mount.

    Declan Rice was released by Chelsea at the age of 14

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Declan Rice was released by Chelsea at the age of 14Picture credits: Tony Mount

Being a teammate again gives Rice more opportunities to avenge the summer coup that became viral on social media.

But he admits he finds it hard to repay Mount for being woken up on a boy's vacation – and for sharing his appalling screams with the world.

Rice said, "He's hard to come by. His room is always locked because he is always on the move.

"He knows when something is going to happen, so I have to plan it carefully. I'm planning something big. "

But the biggest plan for the Chelsea kids – past and present – is to play together at Euro 2020.

Rice, midfielder Mount, 20, 21, center-back Tomori and striker Abraham, 22, now have a great chance to make history with England.

With the blues super-kids Callum Hudson-Odoi (18) and Reece James (19) they can compete with the class of Manchester United (92).

Or West Ham's golden harvest from Carrick, Cole, Defoe, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Glen Johnson.

Rice already dreams of doing what the Hammers trio of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters did in 1966 – to get an important trophy on home soil.

He said: "If you look at the Euro 2020, we have three group games at home, the semi-finals and the home finals.

"So it's pretty much like a home tournament, until then we'll all be more experienced and better players.

"The 2015 Chelsea Group or whatever, hopefully they're all in and around the England squad.

"This buzz, the thrill of being in a big tournament, will surely reach us all.

"We want to go out there and do a great job – and win again for England, as they did in 1966."

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