Northern Ireland manager reveals why Newcastle legend Steve Harper is an 'invaluable' addition to his coaching staff

Steve Harper is his final game for Newcastle in 2013 against Arsenal.
Steve Harper is his final game for Newcastle in 2013 against Arsenal.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has revealed why Steve Harper will be an "invaluable" addition to his coaching staff.

The Newcastle legend was confirmed as the Green and White Army's new goalkeeping coach on Monday having worked alongside Ben Dawson in the Magpies' U21s set up this term.

United won't lose Harper permanently, though, who will continue his role at United's Benton training base as well as managing his national team role.

He will join O'Neill, who himself played for Newcastle between 1987/89, for next week's two opening Euro 2020 qualifiers with Estonia and Belarus.

And the 49-year-old says Harper's experience is vital as they continue nurture youngsters such as Leeds' Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Celtic's Conor Hazard into full internationals.

He said: "With young goalkeepers like Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Conor Hazard in our squad, it is important that we have a coach who can help maximise potential.

"Steve is an excellent fit in that regard and I believe that both his experience and his knowledge of the game will prove invaluable for us going forward."

In 20 years on Tyneside, Harper amassed nearly 160 appearance for the Magpies after remaining loyal to the club he joined in 1993.

Harper's time with the United youngsters has proved to be a big success so far as they reached the last 16 of the Checkatrade Trophy - losing to local rivals Sunderland.

And when Northern Ireland came calling, the 43-year-old believes it was an opportunity he simply couldn't turn down.

"When I was offered the opportunity of joining the Northern Ireland coaching team I had no hesitation in saying yes," said Harper.

"Michael and the players have achieved great things in recent years and I am really looking forward to working with the excellent group of goalkeepers in the squad."