Ollie Norwood remembers the day he realised what Sheffield United were all about ahead of Fulham reunion

As the final whistle blew on a remarkable game that saw Fulham beat Sheffield United 5-4 on a crazy night at Bramall Lane, Oliver Norwood slumped to the turf in exhaustion.

Saturday, 17th October 2020, 12:00 pm

"I remember thinking: "Thank God that's over'," Norwood, who played in midfield for Fulham that day, remembers.

"I was knackered. But for me, that game just summed up United under Chris Wilder.

"They just kept going and never gave it up. I think it was 5-2 at one point? If the game had carried on for a bit longer, it might have been 7-6 or 8-7 or something.

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"It was an incredible night; one of my most memorable games in football. It had everything.

"I remember speaking to Knilly [Alan Knill, United's assistant manager who Norwood played under at Scunthorpe earlier in his career] afterwards and he said that’s what the Gaffer is like.

"If someone’s going to beat us, then they’ve got to earn it. If they’re better than us then that’s fine. But they’re going to have to be because they won’t out-run us or out-work us.”

On Sunday, back at Bramall Lane, the two sides will meet again just under three years on from that crazy game, which saw both Leon Clarke and Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon score hat-tricks.

Samir Carruthers and Ollie Norwood during United's 5-4 defeat to Fulham in 2017: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Norwood could return to the United line-up after a period on the sidelines, and will have extra incentive to perform if he does so against another of his former clubs that he helped to promotion.

A year after getting into the Premier League with Brighton and being sent on loan to Fulham, Norwood was part of the Cottagers side that won the play-off final at Wembley.

But he had to wait until he remarkably won promotion for a THIRD time in three years, with United, to finally make his top-flight debut.

Norwood, speaking in the book 'We're not going to Wembley' which charted United's promotion to the Premier League, remembers how he thanked United boss Chris Wilder, not long after promotion was secured, for 'rescuing him'.

Norwood is now a Blade (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"I went to Brighton after the 2016 Euros, and it was a difficult period in my life," Norwood added.

"My wife, Abigail, was pregnant and really ill, so we were living apart. My head wasn't fully there.

"But I went on loan to Fulham and fell in love with football again. We got promoted at Wembley, and then it was back to Brighton.

"They said I could leave, but then turned down bids when they came in and started asking for silly things. I don't think clubs realise sometimes that they're messing with people's lives. I had plenty of arguments, saying: 'You don't want me here, so let me go'.

Leon Clarke (second left) scored a hat-trick against Fulham: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"I was training on my own, running up and down the side of the pitch while the first team lads were training, and there were days when I didn't want to go in and face it.

"But my family and my little boy got me through the hard periods, and I realised I had to do it for them. It wasn't just about me anymore. So I feel that United came in for me just at the right time, and that's what I mean by the gaffer rescuing me."

Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon (left) celebrates scoring with Ollie Norwood during United's 5-4 defeat to Fulham in 2017: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Oliver Norwood of Fulham celebrates his sides victory after the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)