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Sunday 4 December 2016

Norwood praises Fergie influence on North's rise

Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson may be long retired, but his influence will still be felt at Euro 2016 in the shape of resurgent Northern Ireland.

Six of Michael O'Neill's France-bound squad came through the ranks at Old Trafford, although only defender Paddy McNair is still with the club.

Jonny and Corry Evans, Oliver Norwood, Craig Cathcart and Luke McCullough all learned their trade under the Ferguson regime before moving on.

Yet Reading midfielder Norwood is convinced the values instilled by the peerless Scot are continuing to do Northern Ireland proud.

"It might sound silly, but the United lads were brought up properly," he said.

"We worked under the regime of the best manager who's ever managed in football, Sir Alex Ferguson.

"What he passed through that club - to the youth team, to every academy boy - that's something we can look back on with pride. We were all together there and now we're all together here at Northern Ireland. We were brought up in a proper football club, training every day with world-class players, but seeing they're just normal people.

"I don't think you'll ever see a 'big time Charlie' coming out of that Manchester United system because it's not allowed there."

The Old Trafford effect has not been lost on manager O'Neill either.

"There's a number of our players who have that same good grounding," he said, having watched his side seal top spot in Group F with a 1-1 draw in Finland on Sunday.

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