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'I think he's making a huge mistake' - Northern Ireland midfielder retires from international football at 28

Sheffield United’s Oliver Norwood earned 57 international caps but wants to concentrate on his club career.

52 of his 57 caps have come under Michael O'Neill.
52 of his 57 caps have come under Michael O'Neill.
Image: Niall Carson

OLIVER NORWOOD HAS announced his international retirement at the age of 28. 

The Northern Ireland midfielder, who earned 57 caps, says he wants to concentrate on his club football with newly-promoted Premier League club Sheffield United. 

Burnley-born Norwood, who came through Manchester United’s youth academy, represented England at underage level before switching to Northern Ireland’s U19s. 

He made his senior international debut in 2010 and played a key part in helping Michael O’Neill’s side qualify for Euro 2016 — where he featured in all four games as they reached the last 16. 

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

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.”

Czech Republic vs. Northern Ireland Northern Ireland boss O'Neill giving Norwood instructions. Source: DPA/PA Images

Speaking to the BBC, however, O’Neill believes Norwood could come to regret the decision to retire from the international game prematurely. 

“I think he is making a huge mistake,” said the Northern Ireland manager. “I have no doubt he could have continued to play club and international football for many years.

“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.”

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Ben Blake

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