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Men's Football Michael O'Neill left dumbfounded by Norwood retiring

NORTHERN IRELAND manager Michael O’Neill has called Oliver Norwood’s decision to retire from international football “premature” and “a huge mistake.”

The 28-year-old midfielder made the announcementthis morning, wanting to concentrate on his club career with Sheffield United — who are back in the Premier League after a 12-year absence and won their first game of the season against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Norwood, who was born in Burnley but qualified to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather, won 57 caps for his country and also represented them at under-19 and under-21 level.

“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 the 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.”

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