Harper Given Toon chance
Steve Harper has conceded he may have quit St James' Park had it not been for Shay Given's injury problems.
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 17/09/07 1:47pm
Steve Harper has conceded he may have quit St James' Park had it not been for Shay Given's injury problems last season.
Newcastle's long-serving understudy goalkeeper has spent the majority of the past decade playing second fiddle to Given, despite proving more than capable when called upon.
Having grown exasperated at life on the bench Harper was ready to seek pastures new, only for a freak bowel injury and a troublesome groin complaint suffered by Given to hand him an opportunity to make 25 appearances last term.
And with a thigh injury having deprived Sam Allardyce of Given's services again this season, Harper has been given an extended run between the posts, with the 31-year-old having started each of Newcastle's first four Premier League matches.
Out of sight
"It's been incredibly hard. The four or five-year period I had out of the side was probably the hardest part of my life professionally," Harper admitted.
"It was very tough and frustrating. When you don't get a game for such a long time, it's very much out of sight, out of mind, people tend to forget about you.
"You keep your head down and work hard, but it's tough.
"All I ever said was I want to play first-team football here, and to play 25 games last year came at the right time for me because if it had not happened last year, then who knows what might have happened.
"That was important. It came at the right time for me, and the start of this season has been great and a big boost."