Fabricio Coloccini and Steve Harper

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

When Fabricio Coloccini handed the captain's armband to Steve Harper before the long-serving goalkeeper's final appearance for Newcastle, it was more than just a generous gesture - it was a thank you.

It was a thank you for helping the Argentine settle into a new country when he first arrived in 2008, and for going out of his way to assist him during a difficult first season on Tyneside.

And it was a thank you for his efforts in helping the Club regroup from one of its darkest days - relegation at Villa Park - to return to the top flight and once again compete in Europe.

Fittingly, Harper brought down the curtain on his Magpies career at St. James' Park against Arsenal on Sunday and the reception he received in the 37th minute and after the game will live long in the memory.

But it was also appropriate that the 38-year-old shot-stopper was skipper for the day and Coloccini was delighted to make that happen, as he revealed to the Club's official website.

"I enjoyed Harps taking the armband in his last game after 20 years at the Club," the Cordoba-born defender told nufc.co.uk. "He's been here so, so long and I think it was a nice day for him.

"He's a man who helped me when I came. In the first year, he was near me every time if I needed something around the city.

"So we will miss him because he's a good man, a positive man in the changing room and that's very important."

The only thing missing from Harper's swansong was a win, with the Gunners' 1-0 victory enough to see them finish fourth in the Barclays Premier League ahead of city rivals Tottenham.

But Coloccini was encouraged by United's performance against one of the top sides in the country and believes it bodes well for next season.

"It was disappointing to lose, of course, but they were fighting for the Champions League while we didn't play for anything, just trying to get three points for the fans," he said.

"But I think Sunday was a very good game because maybe we showed that we can fight against the big teams. We have to prepare for next season and play like we did on Sunday: to be compact and aggressive.

"I think next season, if the team play like that, we can be higher in the table."

Click here to buy a new Newcastle United change shirt with Coloccini's name and number on the back