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12 June 2014

Profiles of the three men to have represented Norwich City on the biggest stage

EXCITEMENT must be at fever pitch for Norwich City midfielder Leroy Fer, who is in the Netherlands’ 23-man squad for their World Cup campaign in Brazil ahead of their first match against Spain on Friday.

If Fer features over the course of the next month, he will become the fourth footballer to play at the tournament while with the Canaries.

Here we profile the three previous City stars who had the chance to shine on the biggest stage…

MARTIN O’NEILL – 1982 World Cup (Northern Ireland)

Midfield maestro O’Neill captained Northern Ireland at the 1982 World Cup Finals just weeks after spearheading a near-miraculous Norwich City promotion.

O’Neill enjoyed a glittering career at Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, where he won the league title in 1978 and played in the European Cup final success of 1980 – before joining Norwich for £250,000 in February 1981.

He left the following summer after Norwich were relegated, but returned to Carrow Road in February 1982, helping the Canaries regain top-flight status after winning 10 of their final 12 games.

Northern Ireland then pulled off a major shock at the World Cup Finals as their 1-0 win over host nation Spain too Billy Bingham’s side through to the second round group stage, where they were eventually eliminated.

O’Neill, who scored eight goals in 64 international appearances – later had a brief spell as Norwich manager in 1995. He is currently manager of Republic of Ireland.

ANDY TOWNSEND – 1990 World Cup (Republic of Ireland)

Townsend joined Norwich from Southampton for £300,000 in August 1988, and helped the Canaries reach the FA Cup semi-finals and to finish a then best-ever fourth in the top-flight in 1988-89.

Republic of Ireland boss Jack Charlton quickly drafted Townsend into his squad after realising that the Maidstone-born midfielder qualified through his grandmother.

Townsend played 70 times for the Republic, scoring seven goals, and competed in the World Cup Finals twice. He played in all five games at Italia ’90; the Irish drew all three group games against England, Egypt and the Netherlands before famously beating Romania on penalties – Townsend was among the marksmen – to reach the quarter-finals, where Italy ran out 1-0 winners.

He then captained the side at the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA, where they again made it out of the group stage but were beaten 2-0 by the Dutch.

Townsend left Norwich for Chelsea after the 1990 finals, and later played for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.

ROBERT FLECK – 1990 World Cup (Scotland)

The popular Fleck played twice for his native Scotland at Italia ’90 while in the middle of his hugely successful first spell with the Canaries.

After missing out on a place for their first Group C game – a humbling 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica – the powerful striker started against Sweden, playing his part in a 2-1 victory.

Unfortunately for Scotland, a 1-0 loss to Brazil in their final match sent them home, with Fleck coming on as a late substitute for Ally McCoist in Turin. Bryan Gunn was also part their squad.

Fleck moved to Norwich from Rangers in 1987, scoring 66 goals in 189 appearances in all competitions before departing for Chelsea after winning the Club’s Player of the Season award in 1992.

He returned to Carrow Road in 1995, playing 111 more games before finishing his career with Reading.

Fleck still resides in Norfolk, and has had spells managing local sides Diss Town and Gorleston.

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