Northern Ireland and Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 28.
The midfielder was one of the Green and White Army’s key players winning 57 caps for his country but announced today that he would be finishing international football to focus on his club career at Bramall Lane.
Norwood came through the ranks at Manchester United and made his Northern Irish debut in 2010, with his displays in midfield proving key to their rise under manager Michael O’Neill – which included qualifying for Euro 2016.
The 28-year-old released a statement via Sheffield United’s website thanking O’Neill as well as the Northern Irish fans.
“After proudly representing Northern Ireland on 57 occasions, I feel now is the right time to announce my retirement from international football.
“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.”
Norwood’s decision will no doubt be a disappointing one for all involved in the national team especially given the fact that the midfielder is now starring in the Premier League with the Blades.
O’Neill outlined that he feels Norwood is making a “huge mistake” by retiring at 28 and that he will be a big loss to Northern Ireland’s squad as they continue to battle for a place in next year’s European Championships.
“I think he is making a huge mistake. He is only 28 and I’ve no doubt he could have continued to play club and international football for many years,” O’Neill told irishfa.com.
“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 and the squad will continue to progress, and I believe the players in my squad are more than capable of reaching another major tournament.”