Northern Ireland's Norwood retires from international football

Oliver Norwood earned 57 caps during his career Credit: INPHO

Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood has retired from international football.

The Sheffield United player said he wants to concentrate on his club career.

28-year-old Norwood won 57 senior caps for Northern Ireland making 18 appearances at under-19 and under-21 level.

However, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has described Norwood's decision as 'a huge mistake'.

In a statement, issued by his club, the Burnley-born player said: “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.”

Michael O'Neill, whose side has won the four opening games of the European Qualifying campaign, said it was a major disappointment.

“Ollie has been a mainstay of our team for the past seven years," he said.

"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."