Rice: I saw what Modric did to us in 2018… this time I’ll stop him

England open their Euros campaign against Croatia on Sunday, the side that ended their dreams in Russia at the semi-final stage in 2018. Modric was their main tormentor in a 2-1 extra-time defeat that Rice watched as a fan while on holiday in Dubai.

Now a pivotal part of manager Gareth Southgate‘s team, the West Ham midfielder insists he will prove himself on the big stage.

“Then I was miles away from Modric,” said Rice. “I was so young, I was just starting out my career. But now, as I’ve got stronger, I’ve got bigger, I’ve got more confident in my game. Now I really want to go and put myself up against him and try and stop him.

“He’s a world-class player, but it doesn’t faze me at all. I’m ready to go out there and give it everything.”

Rice embodies the fearlessness of England’s bold, young squad, who are heading into the Euros with genuine belief they can win the tournament.

The 22-year-old, who is a target for Chelsea and Manchester United this summer, has emerged as one of the country’s brightest talents — and he is adamant he will seize the opportunity to test himself against some the best players in the world.

“In our first game we’ve got Modric, who is a four-time Champions League winner, Ballon d’Or winner, so that will be a great one to come up against,” he added. “(Mateo) Kovacic, (Marcelo) Brozovic from Inter, they are great players. But hopefully as we progress, we start to face the top, top teams, the world-class teams like France. You always want to play against those players. And I think it’s a good measure to see where we are as a country, against those type of teams.

“France, they won the last World Cup. We’ve got some great players who are now emerging as well as experienced, so I feel like we can give it a real go.

“When I go onto the pitch, my mentality is, ‘It is just a game of football… it is me against the opposition.’

“Of course, when you come up against the bigger players you want to test yourself. But this tournament there will be some world-class players we can come up against and I want to test myself against and I am really relishing that chance. I was only just starting out at West Ham in 2018. I had played a couple of games, but I was not established then. I knew there was such a long way to go to get to where I am today.

“The World Cup was buzzing. I remember watching the Panama game, the Tunisia game, Sweden game. It was incredible. The singing before the game, the national anthem. I was a fan for that tournament, so to be part of this tournament is unbelievable.”

Rice’s partnership with his good friend Mason Mount could be key for England.

The Chelsea star has already tasted glory this season, winning the Champions League.

“I’ve tried to nick his medal,” joked Rice. “I’ve tried to rob it already. Honestly, I was so over the moon for him and his family. We are so close and to see him win it and see how hard he works. I think now he’s taken his game to another level.”

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