Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland has unfinished business from Euro finals: Norwood

 

By Steven Beacom

Oliver Norwood believes unfinished business from the Euro 2016 finals is driving Northern Ireland on in their bid to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia.

Last year, Michael O'Neill's men were very unfortunate to lose out to Wales in the last 16 in France.

It was an experience, according to midfielder Norwood, that gave the players a taste for big time football and left them hungry for more.

The Brighton star, who is currently on loan at Championship side Fulham, adds that if this squad manage to make it all the way to the finals in Russia in 2018, they will go down as amongst the greatest the country has ever known.

"As a group, we met up in Austria ahead of the Czech Republic game in Prague, our first World Cup qualifier, and the Euros were over as such," said Norwood.

"I could genuinely tell when we met up again there was a feeling of unfinished business. We felt hard done by, the way we were put out of the Euros. We'd had a taste of it.

"We considered our World Cup group and after taking Germany out of it we looked at where we could pick points up and we're in the position Michael asked us to be in.

"In fact, we are maybe two or three points better off than the targets we set ourselves.

"We can't get carried away though, and as a group of players and staff we have never done that.

"We want to achieve things and we want to be remembered as players in years to come that were the best in the history of the country. If we can get to Russia, I'm sure that we'll be up there with the greats.

"We've got something really special at the moment, we have momentum and we are in a good place."

A draw versus the Czech Republic at Windsor Park tonight will ensure Northern Ireland finish in second spot in Group C and earn a probable play-off place.

Norwood suggests that drawing on the memory of previous big nights in Belfast during the Euros will be crucial.

"The experience of going through this high pressure before means we can draw on that," said Norwood.

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