Steve Harper confirms part-time job as well as commitment to Newcastle United
Steve Harper has confirmed that he has taken a job with the Northern Ireland FA.
However, he says he remains committed to his role as Lead Academy Goalkeeping Coach at Newcastle United.
Taking on the Northern Ireland goalkeeping coaching role on a part-time basis, Steve Harper will be working under former Newcastle striker Michael O’Neill.
The NI team manager played for Newcastle ahead of Harper’s 20 years at the club.
Steve Harper will travel to Woking with Ben Dawson’s under 23s for Friday night’s NUFC Premier League Cup clash against Reading before meeting up with the Northern Ireland squad.
On familiar face will be Aaron Hughes.
The defender played alongside Harper for Newcastle and despite turning 40 later this year, is still a regular in the Northern Ireland squad, currently with Hearts at club level.
Steve Harper speaking to official Newcastle site:
“The national team role is part time and Michael O’Neill was very keen to get people who are in it day in, day out so at the international camps we are sharp and fresh and ready for what is the ultimate level of football.
“I’m delighted. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, to be honest. Since finishing my Masters (in Sport Directorship), there have been a lot of offers coming in to me but this one was something I found particularly attractive.
“I met Michael O’Neill at a Newcastle game about six weeks ago and we were just talking football – nothing was mentioned about any roles, it was just a general chit-chat about Newcastle United. Michael obviously played there back in the day and it was the first time I’d met him.
“Then I got a call out of the blue just to say that the position was available and would I be interested in doing it? The opportunity to work at international level was something I wasn’t fortunate enough to do as a player but I have a lot of European experience from my time at Newcastle and, briefly, at Hull, and it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to turn down.
“I have to thank Newcastle for their support in the matter; Lee Charnley, Joe Joyce, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith were all very supportive. “During international breaks, we have goalkeepers away as well, which helps manage the situation in my absence, and we have some very good goalkeeping staff, with a bigger pool of staff now.
“It’s great and I can’t wait to get started but we’ve got an important under-23s game in the Premier League Cup on Friday that I’m fully focused on. Then, as of Sunday, when I go away, I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the staff and the players ahead of two big games.
“Bailey Peacock-Farrell has had a lot football at Leeds, certainly in the early part of the season, and I’m going to watch young Conor Hazard – who is on loan at Partick Thistle from Celtic – at Hearts tonight.
“Michael McGovern, who has done an excellent job and had a fantastic Euros (in 2016) is down at Norwich with Tim Krul, and Trevor Carson, who has played the last few internationals, is out at the minute (through illness). I’ll be speaking to the staff at the younger age groups with an eye on what’s coming through, as well.
“I completed my UEFA A Licence and have just completed my UEFA Goalkeeping A Licence with the Irish FA over in Belfast, and I’ve ben very, very impressed by the staff and the support from the likes of Alan Walker, Nigel Best, Tommy Johnson, who’s a Geordie lad, and more recently Packie Bonner on the UEFA goalkeeping course.
“I’m big on team clean sheets.
“John Burridge – my first very goalkeeping coach – used to tell me they’re a ‘goalkeeper’s hat-trick’ but we’re very big on goalkeepers now being seen as part of the team and getting more involved in team practices, so clean sheets are very much a result of a team performance.
“As much as the last week has been disappointing, we’ve still got the Premier League Cup, we’ve still got the play-offs to go for, and in football you have a lot of ups and downs so it’s important not to get too focused on a disappointing week and remember a lot of the excellent stuff that’s gone beforehand.
“The focus now is Friday. We have good memories – we beat Reading down there a few weeks ago and hopefully we can go and do the same again before the focus switches back to the league.”
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