Burnley boy Oliver Norwood: From celebrating Wade Elliott's Wembley winner to facing the team he loves in the Premier League

When Burnley-born Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood celebrated Wade Elliott's goal in the Championship play-off final at Wembley, he could never have envisaged that the boot would be on the other foot just over a decade later.


Norwood's allegiance was firmly in the Clarets camp on May 25th, 2009, as he made the journey to the capital with friends to witness history in the making.

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood with Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood with Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham

The former Northern Ireland international, who was just months away from signing professional terms with Manchester United at the time, was smack bang in the centre of the pandemonium that ensued when Elliott's crisp effort had travelled well out of the reach of Paddy Kenny's fingertips.

Norwood doesn't hide his colours. The 28-year-old, born and raised within walking distance of Turf Moor, which could be seen from his bedroom window, had been a season ticket holder - stationed in the James Hargreaves lower - up until his mid-teens.

His ambition had been to play for his hometown club in the Premier League, a desire heightened by the success of Owen Coyle's side all those years ago.

But, make no bones about it, his loyalty will lie with Chris Wilder's Blades when the ball is kicked at 3 p.m. at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Norwood recalled: "I was there, but we'll keep that one quiet! It was good for the town, but it's all in the past now. We're both here in the Premier League. I think it's going to be a decent game.

"I remember being there and the buzz of a play-off final. Going to Wembley Stadium, it's the level you want to play at and it's your dream as a boy when you're playing football.

"You don't really remember too much about the game, apart from little Wardy [Jamie Ward] getting sent off. I played with him later on for Northern Ireland.

"Obviously Wade Elliott smashing that one in to the top corner was a big moment in Burnley Football Club's history."

Norwood, who played in the same youth teams as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, is fervently proud of his roots.

Last season's PFA Team of the Year entrant, who has now won promotion to the top flight on three occasions, attended St Theodore’s RC High School, prior to its amalgamation, and was scouted while playing for Fulledge Colts in a tournament at Towneley.

However, going up against the Clarets is nothing new for him. This will be the seventh time that he's had to detach himself from the situation having donned the uniform of Coventry City, Huddersfield Town and Reading in the past.

Norwood, who scored for the Terriers at the John Smith's Stadium in 2013, said: "I've played against them a few times before, obviously not in the Premier League, but it's just one of those games.

"It's where I'm from, I'm proud of where I'm from, I always want Burnley to do well, I always look out for their results, I was a season ticket holder, but obviously that all changes when I'm on the opposite side and I want my team to win.

"I used to sit in the Longside, down at the bottom in the James Hargreaves Stand. I was a little bit of a hooligan at school, they were good times.

"You could see Turf Moor from my bedroom window, it's my town and apart from this weekend I want them to do well.

"I was a season ticket holder up to being 16 and then I went in as a scholar at United. We played on Saturday morning as youth team players so obviously it was more difficult to get to games. Every opportunity I get I'll still go along with my friends to watch the games.

"Burnley isn't the greatest town in England, but when you speak to anyone they'll tell you they're proud to be from there.

"We've got a football club in the Premier League, so that's one over on Blackburn, which is what we all want. It's nice."

Norwood, who developed as a player alongside Robbie Brady and Danny Drinkwater at Carrington, will have his friends in tow this weekend having arranged a hospitality package for the cross-Pennine derby in South Yorkshire.

The Lancashire lad, who will be siding with the white rose, was the one handing out the criticism back in the day.

There'll be no doubt that he'll be on the receiving end from those closest to him this time around should the hosts take anything from the game.

"All my friends are coming on Saturday, I've had to fork out for a box for them all," he said. "It will be interesting to see if they get kicked out!

"To me it's just a job at the end of the day; I'm going to work on Saturday. I'm not there to make friends and please people, I'm there to do a job for Sheffield United.

"There are lads that I knocked about with at school who I still knock about with now. It was a group of friends who I used to go on with, we were all scallywags, hanging about street corners. We used to enjoy going on and giving the away fans a bit of stick from the bottom corner."