Sheffield United and Northern Ireland midfielder Ollie Norwood retires from international football

Oliver Norwood has been capped 57 times by Northern Ireland
Image: Oliver Norwood has been capped 57 times by Northern Ireland

Sheffield United and Northern Ireland midfielder Ollie Norwood has announced his retirement from international football.

Norwood, 28, has made 57 appearances for Northern Ireland since making his debut in August 2010 against Montenegro.

"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."

Norwood's decision has not been welcomed by Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who feels the 28-year-old still has plenty to offer at international level.

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"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," the Northern Ireland manager insisted.

"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."
Michael O'Neill on Oliver Norwood's international retirment

"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."

'An almighty blow for Northern Ireland'

Oliver Norwood celebrates Northern Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016 with Stuart Dallas
Image: Norwood celebrates Northern Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016 with Stuart Dallas

Northern Ireland currently sit top of European Championship Qualifying Group C with 12 points from their opening four games.

They host Germany on September 9, live on Sky Sports, before travelling to face the Netherlands on October 10.

Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour believes Norwood's absence will be keenly felt going into those key matches.

"This is an almighty blow for Northern Ireland. Norwood has become a key player with only captain Steven Davis starting more games in Michael O'Neill's seven-year spell in charge of the national team," Gilmour said.

"As a recently promoted player, he was one of only four Premier League players available to O'Neill.

"Norwood missed the games in March as he was managing an injury while attempting to secure that promotion. He has been desperate to play in England's top division after missing out following back-to-back promotions with Brighton and Fulham.

"His third promotion in a row, with Sheffield United, afforded him the chance to fulfil a lifelong ambition and this will no doubt have played a part in his thinking.

"O'Neill has called the decision "premature" and "a huge mistake" and it is hard to disagree.

"If there is no long-term injury concern, at the age of 28, this feels like a waste especially with Northern Ireland in a prominent position in their qualifying group and preparing for mammoth games against Netherlands and Germany in the coming months.

"Norwood's international career will be remembered fondly for his glorious delivery as Gareth McAuley headed home Northern Ireland's first-ever European Championships goal.

"His passing ability and work rate made him a real fans' favourite and he will be missed but this now becomes an ideal opportunity for Paddy McNair to grow his international career."

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