Steve Harper

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

Steve Harper is relishing pulling on his gloves for the final game of the campaign, as the veteran stopper praised his teammates for their "fantastic character".

The 38-year-old was a late substitute in United's 2-1 win at Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, following a red card to goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

And Elliot's one-game ban will mean that long-serving Harper, who has been with the Magpies for 20 years, gets to run out at St. James' Park against Arsenal in the season finale next weekend.

"I was hoping to play but not in these circumstances," he told nufc.co.uk.

"Rob is a great lad who works so hard and it's horrible on him. I thought the sending off was very harsh - his feet were outside the box but I don't think anyone could tell if the ball actually was.

"However, I'm looking forward to the Arsenal game, it will be fantastic."

Goals from Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran earned Newcastle all three points at Loftus Road, a result which secured their top flight status.

And Harper praised a resolute team performance from those in front of him and Elliot, as they recorded a rare away win.

"The big thing is we are safe. That is a huge, huge result," he said.

"I think we were a little nervous at the start, so to go a goal down and come back to win is fantastic.

"We showed fantastic character at a very tough place to come and on a difficult pitch, with the rain pouring down into our faces in the second half.

"There was good spirit today and it was a massive, massive result for this football club.

"It's always horrible going on, whether Rob's been injured or harshly sent-off, as he was today. But that's why you're there - you have to be ready, and I was very well protected by the lads in front of me.

"You have to mentally be prepared. You warm up beforehand and, as Woody said when I was waiting to go on, you just click the auto-pilot button.

"I've been in that position too many times so I know what it's all about. I think I've gone on probably double figures now.

"It's difficult but you have to tune in and concentrate on the game. Thankfully I was well-protected, just had a few kicks and we managed to dig out a vital win."

To buy a Newcastle United goalkeeper shirt with Steve Harper's name and number on the back, click here