Steve Harper reacts after returning to Newcastle United in 'key' role
Steve Harper has returned to Newcastle United as a first-team coach, the club have announced on Friday afternoon.
The popular former goalkeeper had left his role with the under-23s in May this year after joining Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland set-up.
However, Harper has returned to Tyneside little under seven months later, while retaining his goalkeeping role with the national team for the upcoming play-off games and Euro 2020 - if they qualify.
United’s longest-serving player will work alongside Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and head of goalkeeping Simon Smith as a key part of Steve Bruce's backroom team.
His role will entail forging closer links between the first team and its academy set-up with the club inspired by the rise of Sean and Matty Longstaff.
"I'm looking forward to it,” said Harper. “The manager said to me he'd like me to come in with a role around the first team, but more than just that.
"I'll officially be a first team coach, but with a conduit for keeping an eye on, and almost as a link to, the under-23s, who I worked with last season, and the Academy where I've worked in various capacities over the last three years. So it made sense, and I'm looking forward to getting started."
Bruce, who signed Harper for Hull City in 2013, explained why the 44-year-old has returned to the club in the diverse role he has.
The Magpies manager said: "Since I came through the door, I have had a big interest in what our Academy is producing.
“With the difficulty of being on two sites, I think it's vitally important that we have a link between the two and certainly, Steve Harper will give us a better link.
"He's somebody who I had the pleasure of managing, he's went on to do his coaching badges, and he's one of that 'young brigade' who can do a little bit of coaching, but just as importantly, will give us a stronger bridge in between the first team and the Academy.”