Declan Rice steps up as England leader as he reaches half century

Arsenal midfielder will captain his country for the first time against Belgium at Wembley on the occasion of his 50th cap

It is a story that bears retelling mainly because it will make people smile. It was early last week, the England squad have joined up at St George’s Park for the Wembley friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, and Declan Rice bumps into John Stones. So, Arsenal versus Manchester City and, as everybody knows, it is Arsenal versus Manchester City after the international break – at the Etihad Stadium this Sunday. Well, not everybody, as it turns out.

“I said: ‘Big game next,’” Rice says. “And John said: ‘Who are you playing?’ And I said: ‘We’ve got you lot!’ He said: ‘Oh yeah.’ He didn’t even know they were playing us next! When he’s away from football he likes to be with his family and switch off and I get that. He likes to take one game at a time.”

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