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Harper delight at Di Canio involvement in charity match
PAOLO DI CANIO may well get a frosty reception at Steve Harper's 20 Years benefit match tonight, but the former Newcastle United goalkeeper is delighted the Sunderland manager has pledged his support.
Di Canio will feature tonight for AC Milan Glorie against a Newcastle XI picked by Harper, in the Easington-born keeper's one-off game which will see proceeds split between the Great North Children's Hospital, the Sir Bobby Robson and the Newcastle United Foundation.
And while Harper fully expects Di Canio to be the subject of abuse from the supporters at St James' Park, he is pleased that the match has found support from south of the Tyne.
"The good thing is that the Great North Children's Hospital and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation are not exclusive to Newcastle United fans," Harper said on BBC Newcastle's Total Sport programme last night.
"They are world class facilities on our doorstep that everybody across the region and beyond can use. Sir Bobby was a big fan of North-East football and went across to watch Sunderland, so I'm sure Sir Bobby would appreciate him coming along.
"Yes, he'll get some stick, but I think he's the type of character that might just feed off that. He might be the Sunderland manager, but let's not forget he was a top, top player.
"It should be a special night."
Harper revealed that he approached former Magpies manager Kevin Keegan to play for Newcastle tonight, but was unable to pursuade his former boss.
"Kevin Keegan is a very hard man to get hold of," explained Harper. "When he disappears, he's a tough man to track down. I think the world of Kevin, it would have been nice to get him but sadly it's not possible.
"I'm working my socks off as everyone else is, hopefully it'll be worth it to give a lot of money away.
"It'll be a celebration and a bit of a party."
Steve Harper XI squad: Steve Harper, Pavel Srnicek, Shay Given; John Beresford, Olivier Bernard, Nikos Dabizas, Brian Kilcline, Darren Peacock, Alessandro Pistone, Steve Watson; Joey Barton, Lee Bowyer, Nicky Butt, Lee Clark, Kieron Dyer, Ruel Fox, Keith Gillespie, David Ginola, Rob Lee, Liam O’Brien, Scott Sellars, Nolberto Solano, Steve Stone, Alan Thompson; Faustino Asprilla, Peter Beardsley, Andrew Cole, Les Ferdinand, Paul Kitson, Alan Shearer.
AC Milan Glorie: Sebastiano Rossi, Massimo Taibi; Franco Baresi, Roberto Favalli, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Mussi, Massimo Oddo, Guiseppe Pancaro, Pietro Vierchowod; Ibrahim Ba, Zvonimir Boban, Alessandro Costacurta, Angelo Carbone, Federico Giunti, Christian Lantignotti, Gianluigi Lentini, Mark van Bommel; Daniele Massaro, Christian Vieri.
Kick off is 7pm. Tickets are on sale at www.nufc.co.uk and the St James’ Park box office, priced £10 for adults and £5 for children/concessions. Cash-only turnstiles will be open from 5.30pm on Wednesday and will be located at turnstiles 75, 76.
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