Newcastle United have confirmed on Friday afternoon that former goalkeeper Steve Harper has joined the club’s coaching team.
Harper spent 20 years at the club between 1993 and 2013, making him our all-time longest serving player, but has now returned to work alongside Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and head goalkeeping coach Simon Smith as part of Steve Bruce’s coaching team.
Not only that, it sounds like the former NUFC stopper will also be working with the club’s Academy and U-23’s.
Here’s the official statement released by the club, followed by reactions to the news from both Harper and Bruce:
Newcastle United are pleased to announce that Steve Harper has joined the club as first team coach.
The former Magpies goalkeeper – who remains the club’s all-time longest-serving player after spending 20 years at St. James’ Park between 1993 and 2013 – will work alongside first team coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence and head of goalkeeping Simon Smith as a key part of Steve Bruce’s backroom team.
Part of Harper’s role will be to work with Academy staff as the club looks to forge closer links between the first team and its Academy set-up, building on a pathway that has seen the likes of Sean and Matty Longstaff make their Premier League debuts over the past 18 months.
Bruce managed Harper at Hull City, where Agnew and Clemence were coaches, between 2013 and 2015, while Harper worked with Smith during his playing days and, more recently, during his time as United’s Lead Academy Goalkeeping Coach.
He left that role in May to concentrate on his role as goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland national team. Michael O’Neill’s side have qualified for the EURO 2020 play-offs and Harper will combine his new post with those key fixtures, as well as the European Championships should they qualify.
As well as his wealth of footballing experience, Harper is a qualified UEFA A coach and UEFA A Goalkeeping Coach, and holds a Masters degree in Sport Directorship.
Harper starts the new role on Saturday, and will travel with the squad for Monday night’s Premier League game at Aston Villa (kick-off 8pm GMT).
“I’m looking forward to it. The manager said to me he’d like me to come in with a role around the first team, but more than just that.
“I’ll officially be a first team coach, but with a conduit for keeping an eye on, and almost as a link to, the under-23s, who I worked with last season, and the Academy where I’ve worked in various capacities over the last three years. So it made sense, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
“Since I came through the door, I have had a big interest in what our Academy is producing. With the difficulty of being on two sites, I think it’s vitally important that we have a link between the two and certainly, Steve Harper will give us a better link.
“He’s somebody who I had the pleasure of managing, he’s went on to do his coaching badges, and he’s one of that ‘young brigade’ who can do a little bit of coaching, but just as importantly, will give us a stronger bridge in between the first team and the Academy.
“We welcome Steve aboard. I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”
Welcome back, Harps!