Declan Rice delivered a masterclass, both on and off the pitch, as he helped West Ham take a huge step towards Premier League safety with a deserved win over Manchester United.
The 24-year-old England international saved his best performance of the season for arguably the most important game.
After becoming the first player in England’s top flight this season to reach 60+ interceptions in the first-half of a match, Rice made more ball recoveries  and made more interceptions  than any other player throughout.
It has been a superb campaign for the West Ham midfielder, who has won possession more times  than any other player in the Premier League this season – a nod to his capabilities in that defensive midfield position.
As well as his superb achievements on the pitch for the Hammers this season, the extremely likeable Rice continues to be an ambassador for being, well, just a really nice bloke.
As you can see in the post-match footage below, Rice was walking around the London Stadium on Sunday evening when he spotted an emotional young fan in the stands.
Rice began: “Alright brother? You good?”
After the boy said yes, the West Ham and England midfielder said: “Why are you crying? Come here, good lad!”
Rice added: “Do you know what? I did promise I’d give it to Marcus Rashford. Don’t show them lot [points], I just told them I’m going to give it to Rashford but I’ll give him another one. Here you go.
“And I burnt my shoulder as well, so you can have that!”
After they embraced, Rice added: “Good boy. Love you mate, love you.”
— Micky ⚒ (@Micky62053615) May 7, 2023
Here’s how social media reacted to the heartwarming scenes.
One said: “Absolutely class. After what we saw with Leeds players a few weeks ago this is an absolute breath of fresh air. You can see Rice is a role model for any player,” while another wrote: “Declan rice is a great human.”
A third commented: “What an absolute hero for doing this. One of England’s best players and the backbone of WHU. Just shows that not all of them are over tattooed divas. He is so genuine. Thanks for sharing this.”
A fourth added: “Great stuff. Setting an example for others to follow. Took less than 1 min and made the lads’ day. Fair play.”
Rice also shared the video alongside the caption: “Seeing your boy made my night. This is what it’s all about! Would be a pleasure to sign it for you.”
Speaking to BT Sport after a first-half goal from Said Benrahma sealed a deserved 1-0 win, Rice said the West Ham squad were confident about their chances ahead of kick-off.
“We had our eye on this game as one we could win, at home with the fans,” he said. “The lads gave everything today and it was a thoroughly deserved win.
“I think that’s probably our best performance at home this season. We played on the front foot, aggressive, being comfortable one vs one, on the ball, just everything today, it was a positive performance.
“As a player, the whole world are watching these games. It’s what it’s about, you’re against Man United and today we did it.”
Let’s be honest, Benrahma’s winner was down to a huge error from United goalkeeper David de Gea, who spilled what was a tame effort from range.
David de Gea will not want to see this one again!
Saïd Benrahma is gifted the opener of the game pic.twitter.com/5YOORsFsQ4
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 7, 2023
Thoughts on Declan Rice’s gesture after the full-time whistle?
Let us know in the comments.