Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Norwood has his own special souvenir as he pockets Ronaldo’s jersey

Oliver Norwood didn't just come home with the satisfaction of playing a key role in a brilliant result for Northern Ireland — he also had the prized possession of Cristiano Ronaldo's shirt in his luggage.

And he had former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand to thank.

Huddersfield midfielder Norwood, who had a fine game in the middle of the park, and Ferdinand have the same agent so the youngster asked the England defender if he could use his influence with the Real Madrid superstar in order to get Ronaldo's top after the match.

Bearing in mind it was Ronaldo's 100th game for his country, it was quite a request.

But Rio delivered and so too did Cristiano after the match.

“Rio and I have the same agent, and I knew he was still in touch with Ronaldo, so I phoned him last week and asked if he could put a word in for me,” said 21-year-old Norwood.

“I just explained how much it would mean to have Ronaldo’s shirt and asked if he could possibly see what the chances were.

“I was hoping that might do the trick, but I wanted to make sure, so I went up to Ronaldo before the game and said hello.

“He just said: ‘Yeah, Rio spoke to me. Don’t worry — the shirt’s yours.’

“A few of the lads went up to him at the end of the game, but he was as good as his word.”

With Northern Ireland's brilliant display ensuring the match finished 1-1, ruining Ronaldo's big night, one might have thought that the Real Madrid star would have been in such foul form that the promise to Norwood would have been forgotten.

But Ronaldo, sometimes criticised for his attitude, came up trumps and handed the shirt over much to the delight of the Huddersfield star.

Norwood, who was at Old Trafford as a teenager, added: “He wasn’t happy about the way the game had gone and wasn’t exactly in the best of moods, but he actually came over to me, shook hands and said: ‘I haven’t forgotten. You can have the shirt.’

“That just rounded off a great night for me. I couldn’t have wished for a better keepsake from such a fantastic game and occasion.

“To me Ronaldo is the best player in the world and it was great to be out on the same pitch as him, taking him on and getting a result.

“Of all the memorabilia I have picked up during my career, this is far and away the best. I will frame it, as soon as I get it home, and keep it. It will have pride of place among all my football possessions.

“I will show it to my kids and grandkids in years to come and tell them that’s the shirt Ronaldo wore on his 100th international appearance.

“I was on the pitch with him, and there’s the evidence. I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and I owe Rio for setting it up for me. It was so good of him, and I am really grateful.”

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