At DT38 we are very proud of our partnership with West Ham United and of the fantastic support we receive from its fans, staff and players.
Among the players and officials to sign up as an Ambassador of the Foundation is Declan Rice and we caught up with him to chat about football, life as a top flight player and testicular cancer awareness.
Since bursting into the West Ham United back line in 2017, the 19-year-old centre back has become a fixture in the first team squad.
The London-born defender – who wears the 41 shirt – has made 15 Premier League appearances so far for the Hammers in the 2017-18 campaign.
He became a firm favourite among Irons fans after an outstanding display against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium in December and his career has gone from strength to strength since.
In 2017 Declan was awarded Young Player of the Year at West Ham and the year before he won the Dylan Tombides Award as the outstanding Academy player.
It was after picking up the accolade that Declan joined DT38 as an Ambassador and vowed to support the charity in its mission to raise awareness of testicular cancer.
Speaking on the importance of winning the Dylan Tombides Award in 2016 for his outstanding Academy performances, he told us: “It was a special moment for me. To win such a prestigious award at such a young age was a dream come true.
“I didn’t know Dylan but I heard he was a lovely boy and a top footballer, so it made it more special for me.”
Heroes and idols among elite athletes is a common feature and Declan is no exception.
We quizzed the Republic of Ireland Under 21 international about who he considers to be his greatest inspiration within the world of football.
“John Terry”, he revealed.
“Growing up I used to watch videos of him all the time. Every time I had a match I would try and play exactly as he did. He’s a great idol to look up to for any young centre back.”
Of course, making it as a top -level professional footballer doesn’t come without years of dedication, hard work and an abundance of talent.
Declan offered his advice to young people dreaming of making their way as a pro in “The Beautiful Game”.
He said: “My advice would be don’t worry about other people, just worry about yourself.
“You need to work hard every day and give everything you have because you only have one shot at it.”
Realising his dreams to become established as a first team player at West Ham, Declan has worn claret and blue with pride on many occasions.
He is acutely aware of the importance that fans play in a team’s success and described the breathtaking moment he first emerged from the tunnel on match day at the London Stadium.
“It felt like a dream, hearing 60,000 fans singing ‘Blowing Bubbles’ gives me goose bumps. It gives you so much of a boost,” he remarked.
You could be mistaken for thinking that becoming a Premier League footballer would be enough for most people, but the ambitions don’t stop there for Declan.
“My ambition is win the Premier League title,” he explained.
“As a kid watching so many games and seeing so many teams lift it, it gives me a buzz to go on and try to win the title.”
When away from the game Declan – who has clocked up 21 first team appearances for the Hammers so far – loves nothing better than winding down with his nearest and dearest.
“I like to spend time with my family, my girlfriend and I try to visit cities on days off, I try to relax a much as possible when I have the chance to.”
In 2014, one of West Ham United’s most promising young players, Dylan Tombides, lost his life to testicular cancer at the age of 20 following an extraordinarily brave battle with the disease.
A year later saw the launch of DT38 Foundation, a charity to raise awareness of the risks of the disease and the importance of self checking, early detection and insisting on an ultrasound
In the UK alone around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year and if caught early enough the survival rate is around 98 per cent.
As DT38 Ambassador, Declan offered an importance message to fans of West Ham United and men everywhere.
“Guys, the facts are out there.
“Testicular cancer affects younger men in particular and if you catch it early your chances of getting treated effectively are much higher and so it’s so important that you check yourselves regularly and seek advice if you notice anything different.
“Don’t take a risk, don’t be silly, just check yourselves.”
Advice on how to self check