Oliver Norwood: Sheffield United player ends NI career

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Norwood delivered the free-kick for Gareth McAuley’s famous Euro 2016 goal against Ukraine in Lyon

Northern Ireland’s Oliver Norwood has announced his retirement from international football.

The 28-year-old midfielder, who has 57 caps, says he wants to concentrate on his club career with Premier League side Sheffield United.

But NI boss Michael O’Neill said he felt Norwood was quitting too early.

“I think he is making a huge mistake. I have no doubt he could have continued to play club and international football for many years,” said O’Neill.

“Ollie has been a mainstay of our team for the past seven years. I know this was not an easy decision for Ollie to make, however I think his decision is premature.

“He had the opportunity to leave an incredible legacy at international level and the potential to reach 100 caps.

“Ollie will be a loss to our squad, however we have won our four qualifying games to date (for Euro 2020) in his absence. The squad will continue to progress, and I believe the players in my squad are more than capable of reaching another major tournament.”

Burnley-born Norwood was a regular in O’Neill’s midfield when the side qualified for Euro 2016 and played in all four of the team’s matches in the finals in France.

He ruled himself out of the squads for the opening four Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus, from which O’Neill’s side claimed maximum points.

“After proudly representing Northern Ireland on 57 occasions, I feel now is the right time to announce my retirement from international football,” Norwood said in a statement issued by Sheffield United.

“I’ve enjoyed the highs of a major tournament – being part of the squad in France at Euro 2016 was the proudest point of my international career.

“I would like to thank the manager, Michael O’Neill, for selecting me on so many occasions to represent my country, and also to the players I’ve played with through the years. We’ve had some enjoyable times.

“A huge thank you, too, to the GAWA (Green and White Army) for the tremendous support offered through the years. In my opinion the GAWA really are the best fans in the world and hopefully the squad can deliver more success for them to enjoy.”

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