The decision to name Declan Rice as the Republic of Ireland’s Young Player of the Year has been described as “madness” by fans on social media.
The 20-year-old received news of the award on the eve of his maiden England call-up, after swapping allegiances from the nation for whom he represented at both youth and senior levels.
Journalist Neil O-Riordan was on the jury which selected Rice for the young player accolade and defended the decision, but admitted he is “fully aware of how ridiculous it looks now”.
“Fully aware of how ridiculous it looks now but we were asked to pick best u25 player in 2018,” he tweeted.
“You could not have given it to anyone else on that basis; I wasn’t going to change vote because it looks bad.”
However fan @Blue_Footy described the situation as “madness”, adding: “Why not cancel his name and award it to the next player in second position.”
Rice reportedly told Ireland manager Mick McCarthy he wanted to switch to England “to win things”.
Pointing this out with regards to the prize, sports writer Mark McCadden added: “If only he knew.”
The FAI has confirmed that Rice will not be at the awards ceremony on Sunday.
Instead Press Association Sport understands he will be preparing to link up with his new England team-mates, as he is set to be immediately drafted into the Three Lions set-up by Gareth Southgate.
Irishman Mike Sheridan said of the situation: “It’s like we broke up with our girlfriend but refuse to change the profile pic of us.”
Richard Chambers commented: “Stop the world. Let me off. It’s done.”
However, fellow journalist Darren Cleary said Rice “deserves” the accolade.
“To be fair to FAI and SWAI, 2018 was a brutal year for Irish football,” he tweeted. “Declan Rice was easily the best young player.
“He deserves the accolade.”