Steve Harper reveals why he signed for Sunderland his key role at club

Steve Harper hopes he can pass on his vast experience to fellow local lad Jordan Pickford after joining Sunderland on a short-term deal.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd January 2016, 6:30 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2016, 6:44 pm
Steve Harper
Steve Harper

Ex-Newcastle keeper Harper has agreed a contract at Sunderland until the end of the season, to act as back-up behind Pickford and first-choice stopper Vito Mannone.

But while the 40-year-old realises he may never even appear in a red and white shirt, he hopes to use his stint at the Stadium of Light productively by working with his fellow custodians, particularly Pickford.

Academy product Pickford made his Premier League debut against Spurs last weekend and Easington-born Harper is keen to work alongside the England Under-21 international.

“It’s great to see Jordan doing very well,” said Harper. “I’m looking forward to seeing Jordan. I know he’s a local lad like myself whose very driven with a big future ahead of him.

“If I can help him make the right choices, and give him a little nudge along the way, as well as helping Vito, then that’s part of the reason why I’m here.

“I played against Sunderland twice in my first season at Hull and I remember when they were down to nine men, Vito was unbelievable.

“They are two good goalkeepers. I know I’m going to be third choice keeper, obviously.

“Jordan and Vito have a good battle going on there. Vito is the No 1 at the minute and I know I’m not going to oust the pair of them in my short time here.

“But my job is to help in and around the place – not just the goalkeepers, but in the dressing room.”

Harper – who spent 20 years at Newcastle – was a free agent after leaving Hull last summer. Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, who worked with Harper at Newcastle a decade ago, is understood to have mooted the possibility of joining the Black Cats last month and then made fresh contact after this week’s departure of Costel Pantilimon.

“I had a chance to join a Premier League club and Championship club in August and three offers to go to India,” added Harper. “But I think my career proves I’m a bit of a home bird.

“I worked with the manager before at Newcastle and I got a phone call yesterday asking how I was, what my fitness was like and if I fancied coming in for a chat.

“We’ve had a good chat, done a few tests and I’ve signed on the dotted line.”