Steve Harper

Born: 14 March, 1975, Easington
Date Signed: 5 July 1993
NUFC Debut:  28 November 1998 v Wimbledon (H)

Steve signed for United from non-league football in 1993 but took six years to break into the first team and then played in the 1999 FA Cup Final against Manchester United in his 10th senior match!

Before making his first-team debut, Steve went out on loan to Bradford City, Hartlepool and Huddersfield Town, and made a good enough impression for then-Newcastle manager Kenny Dalglish to turn down Huddersfield's bid to take him full-time.

At the start of the 1999/2000 season Steve started the season as first choice but then alternated with Shay Given and ended the season under treatment for injury.

In 2000/01 he made only nine starting appearances as Shay Given took on the mantle as first choice. However, when Steve did play he turned in excellent displays each time and perhaps, had an injury just prior to the match at Leeds in January 2001 not ended his run of six successive games, he may well have held onto the first team jersey for the rest of the season.

Was disappointed not to make any Premiership appearances during the 2001/02 season but was rewarded with a new five-year contract in the summer of 2002. Was restricted to two Champions League and one Worthington Cup appearance in 2002/03.

Captained United for the first time in the Carling Cup match with West Bromwich Albion on 29 October 2003, one of only two appearances he made during 2003/04. Was linked with moves to West Bromwich Albion and Benfica in the summer of 2004 but neither materialised.

Made 7 appearances (5 starts) in 2004/05 but only one (Intertoto Cup) in 2005/06. Had a regular run in the side in September/October 2006 after Shay Given was injured at West Ham and ended the season with 25 appearances, his highest tally since the 1999/2000 season.

Saved the penalty at Watford on 7 November 2006 which earned United their first competitive penalty shoot-out success - after 7 consecutive losses!

The 2007/08 campaign was arguably Steve's best as he appeared in 21 league matches and played a key role in helping to preserve United's top-flight status with a string of excellent displays towards the end of the season.

An all-round sportsman, and the holder of an Open University Degree, Steve is also a qualified minor league referee.

Has made 46 appearances over the past two seasons, passing the 100-game mark for United during 2007/08. Signed new 3-year contract extension in January 2009, keeping him at St' James' until June 2012. Took over the undisputed United No 1 jersey when Shay Given left for Manchester City on 1 February 2009.