The Northern Irish FA confirmed on their official website that the Magpies man would take the role vacated by Maik Taylor earlier this month in a statement which suggests he will remain as part of the backroom staff at St James’ Park despite his new role away from Tyneside.
Harper is the club’s longest ever serving player with 20 years among the squad following his arrival back in 1993 and joined the coaching staff in 2016.
It remains to be seen whether this will affect Harper’s role at Newcastle but it is a great opportunity for him regardless. If anything, time working with international players should help him to improve as a coach, which in turn should boost the development of the next generation of shot stoppers at St James’ Park. Rafael Benitez seems happy to let the Newcastle cult hero to balance his work between both club and his new international role and he could perhaps use him as something of a spy to scout out top quality talents among the Northern Irish squad which Newcastle could sign in the future. The Spaniard has always been open to both learning from others as well as offering out his experience and so will no doubt see this as an opportunity for one of his backroom staff to improve their qualities moving forward. The Toon Army will also be happy for Harper getting such a respectable position with one of the home nations’ national sides after his commitment over the years.