RTÉ soccer pundit Richie Sadlier says it would have appeared "petty" to take the Young Player of the Year award from Declan Rice on the basis that he subsequently changed his international allegiance. 

The FAI disclosed this afternoon that Rice had won the Young Player of the Year award for 2018. The news prompted some derision given that the West Ham player has since switched his allegiance to England, after a very protracted and much publicised saga. 

The award was voted on by members of the Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland, who selected Rice as the winner in early January. 

Even after Rice signalled his intention to switch allegiance, the SWAI decided to stick with their choice. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Soccer Social on Facebook, Sadlier said those objecting to Rice's win in the category were reacting from a place of 'hurt pride'. 

"First of all, is there a player who was more deserving of the award? No. Is there any other player who came any way close? None whatsoever. There's no football argument to say he shouldn't have been given it, but people aren't arguing over football reasons.

"It's just hurt pride and should we rewarding someone who has rejected us in this way, who's walked away, who's had a look and said no, I don't fancy you I'm going to go somewhere else.

"A lot of people are hurt by that and are reacting from that.

"I'd give it to him. I don't think it's an award that means much anyway.

"I think he deserved the award for his performances. There's no debate over who deserved the award more than him. Do you scrap the award because you don't like that he's made the subsequent decision? I don't think that reflects well on anyone. Do you give it to anyone else? Who are the other players we'd have given it to? 

"It's not for football reasons that you don't give it to him, is it for face-saving reasons? Hurt pride reasons? You don't want to reward someone who's just rejected you. They seem petty reasons to take it from him.

"There's a broader discussion here in that where are the other players who could have taken it from him. Why are we not rattling through the names of other players who could be worthy recipients of the Young Player of the Year award? This is a conversation we've been having for years."

Former Ireland full-back Stephen Kelly understands the irritation over the decision. 

"Undoubtedly, on his performances, he deserved Young Player of the Year. But he's just declared for England and you can see why people are disgruntled because you're giving an award to an award to someone who's note even our player anymore."