Sheffield United: 'He could have won 100 caps' - Ollie Norwood 'making a huge mistake' in retiring from international football, says Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Michael O’Neill, the Northern Ireland manager, believes Oliver Norwood is “making a huge mistake” in retiring from international football after insisting the Sheffield United midfielder could have won 100 caps for his country.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 12:29 pm
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 16:41 pm
Oliver Norwood of Sheffield Utd: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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

The midfielder made his last appearance for Northern Ireland last October, in an away double-header of defeats in Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He missed his country’s subsequent games as he battled with a hernia problem, which was successfully operated on this summer.

Norwood is thought to have made the decision to concentrate on his club career, although he is yet to speak publicly on the matter. After winning promotion with United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham, United are the first team to give him an opportunity in the top-flight.

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And O’Neill, who gave Norwood 52 of his 57 caps, said: “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.

“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.”