Harper’s sadness at end of Newcastle career

END OF AN ERA ... Steve Harper.
END OF AN ERA ... Steve Harper.

STEVE Harper has told of his sadness at the imminent end of his long Newcastle United career.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper will leave St James’s Park in the summer when his contract expires.

Harper – the longest-serving player in the club’s history – held talks with United manager Alan Pardew earlier this month.

And Pardew told Harper that he wouldn’t be offered a new deal.

“It will be a sad day,” said Harper.

“It was obviously disappointing to find out the news, but I’m 38 and I’ve been there over half my life.

“It will sad day on May 19 when I leave for the last time.

“Maybe part of me was expecting it, but still when you hear it, it’s not nice.

“That’s the way the world is. We’ve got a young, vibrant squad, and I’m by far the oldest.

“I took it on myself to see the manager. It was the middle of March, and we had a conversation.

“Whenever I’ve spoken to the manager we’ve always been civil and got on well. We had a man-to-man conversation. There’s no resentment there on my part.

“Hopefully, three points against Arsenal (on May 19) with my children as mascots, and I can walk out with my head held high.”

Harper – who was signed from non-league club Seaham Red Star in 1993 by Kevin Keegan – has made 197 appearances for Newcastle.

Had he left the club when Shay Given was the club’s No1, he could have played many more first-team games – and even represented England.

And Easington-born Harper admits to having some regrets when he looks back at his career.

“Over the course of 20 years you’re going to have some regrets,” Harper told BBC’s Late Kick Off last night.

“The three or four year period when Shay was playing year in, year out – that’s when I should have done something about it.

“But ultimately I wanted to play week in, week out.

“I got that in a two-year period, which I loved. Not many people get the opportunity to do that at such a fantastic club.”

Harper - who has made seven appearances for United this season – is hopeful he’s career at the club will end on a high.

Pardew’s side are looking to climb the Premier League – and progress in the Europa League.

“We’re hopefully on our way back up,” he said.

“We’ve signed some fantastic players - (Moussa) Sissoko and the like – and we have a good opportunity in the Europa cup to hopefully bring some silverware back.”

Harper doesn’t intend to hang up his gloves just yet, and he’s hoping to play on for at least another season.

“I’m young enough to continue playing for a year or two,” he added. “Come the summer I’ll look at all the options.”

However, Harper would love to return to St James’s Park in the future.

Asked if he’d like to come back to United as a coach, Harper said: “Definitely – without a shadow of a doubt.

“I’m well on with my coaching badges. That is something I would love to do.”