WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN: RICE SETTLES INTO REPUBLIC OF IRELAND ROLE
- Stephen lands dream job as Opposition Analyst and Head Scout for his homeland
- Moves from coaching staff at Crystal Palace to join the Stephen Kenny regime
- Irish begin crucial three-game stint with a tough trip to face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal
STEPHEN RICE has spoken of his pride after being appointed the Republic of Ireland's Opposition Analyst and Head Scout.
As the international break swings into action with the World Cup qualifiers looming, the Sport Careers Agency client is settling into his dream new role after being lured from Crystal Palace where he was Under-23 Development Coach.
Stephen Kenny's Republic side travel to the Algarve to face Portugal on Wednesday (September 1) before returning home to Dublin for a double-header with Azerbaijan and Serbia.
Kenny is overseeing a rebuilding job with the Republic and has identified Rice as a key part of that leaving the former Palace coach to confess: ”It's a huge honour for me and my family for me to join the Ireland senior men's coaching staff.
”The opportunity to work with and learn from Stephen Kenny at international level is a real privilege, and I can't wait to get started.
"It's an exciting time to be joining the team and having already experienced the fantastic atmosphere within the squad on the last camp, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming games.”
Rice is a highly-respected figure in coaching circles in his homeland now after a playing career that started at Coventry City before stellar League of Ireland spells at Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Longford Town.
He has worked for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) before as as a Development Officer while he was completing a Masters in Sport and Science at University in Dublin.
Rice is an elite coach who holds both a UEFA Pro Licence and the UEFA Certificate in Football Management and Kenny is delighted he is on board as he sets about putting together a structure to rejuvenate the Republic's on-field fortunes.
Ireland boss Kenny said: ”Stephen was part of the staff for the matches against Andorra and Hungary in the summer, and we're delighted he has taken up a full-time role with the team.
”He has an impressive skillset when it comes to analysing teams and players, and he is an important addition to the coaching staff ahead of this month's matches.”