STEVE Harper is ready to end his Newcastle United career on a high - after helping the club secure its Premier League status.
Harper came off the bench late in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road after goalkeeper Rob Elliot was sent off for handling outside the box.
It was Harper’s 198th career appearance for the club he has served for the past two decades.
With Elliot now suspended, it means Harper - who will leave St James’s Park in the summer – will be in goal for the final home game of the season against Arsenal on Sunday.
For his part, Easington-born Harper’s just relieved he’ll be leaving a Premier League club, having gone through the agony of relegation with United four years ago.
“It might not have been the prettiest game, but it was a particularly pretty result, because it means we’re safe,” Harper said. “That’s the all and end all.
“That was the mission for the day, and that’s what we’ve done.
“The relief in the dressing room was obvious. To come from behind as well was a real show of determination. It was a big, big result.”
Harper was in goal at Villa Park when Newcastle were relegated on the final day of the 2008/09 season by a deflected goal.
“It was one thing having the possibility of relegation at Villa Park, but to have the possibility of relegation at St James’s Park was unthinkable,” he added. “It’s not something that can happen.”
Harper felt the decision to show Elliot a second yellow card 10 minutes from time was “harsh”.
“I think it was pretty harsh having seen it on the video,” he said. “The ball bounces on the line into the box. Yes, Robbie’s feet might be outside the box, but it wasn’t his feet that needed to be outside the box.
“The linesman didn’t give it initially. He seems to have reacted to the home crowd. It’s disappointing for Robbie. He’s done really well for us.
“He’s a great lad, he’s worked hard and he’s shown what a good goalkeeper he is. Fortunately, it hasn’t cost us.”
SEE Monday’s Mail for full story and the best football coverage