Michael Keane admits that he used Ireland as a stepping stone to play for England
"I felt really, really English"
Michael Keane has admitted that he used the Republic of Ireland underage teams as a stepping stone to play for England, the country of his birth.
The Everton defender qualified to play for Ireland through his Irish-born father. He represented the country four times in 2010, at Under-17 and Under-19 levels, before switching back to England.
His twin-brother Will is currently in the process of having his Fifa registration transferred from England to Ireland.
Michael played 24 times for the country at Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 levels. The former Manchester United defender has since earned five senior caps for England.
Keane is currently in the squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro, where he made the comments about his time as an Ireland underage international.
"I always felt like I belonged with England, that's why I always dreamed of playing for England," he said on BBC 5 Live when asked about his experience of playing for two countries, as Declan Rice did.
"When I was with Ireland, I wasn't good enough to play for England at that time. And I was only young and small and still developing.
"I had in the back of my head that hopefully one day I could play for England.
"I know when I switched, I felt really, really English. My dad's Irish, but I don't know any of his Irish family, so I've never really felt like I'm fully Irish.
"I don't know how Declan feels, but that was part of my thinking behind my choice."
Keane also expressed his sympathy for Rice, who is set to make his second international debut over the coming days.
The West Ham United midfielder played three times for Ireland before switching to England, the country of his birth.
The comments by the Everton defender are potentially embarrassing for his twin brother, who could end up playing for Ireland at some point under Mick McCarthy.