FORMER Newcastle United goalkeeper has joined the club as a first team coach.

Harper, who remains the club's all-time longest-serving player after spending 20 years at St James' Park between 1993 and 2013, will work alongside other coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, as well as head of goalkeeping Simon Smith.

It is a decision that has been taken with Harper given the remit to work academy staff to forge closer links between the first team and its youth set-up.

Harper played under head coach Steve Bruce at Hull City, where Agnew and Clemence were also coaches, and has also worked with Smith as a player and at the academy.

He has been goalkeeper coach for Northern Ireland and has helped Michael O'Neill's side qualify for the Euro 2020 play-offs.

Harper said: "I'm looking forward to it. The manager said to me he'd like me to come in with a

role around the first team, but more than just that.

"I'll officially be a first team coach, but with a conduit for keeping an eye on, and almost as a link to, the under-23s, who I worked with last season, and the academy where I've worked in various capacities over the last three years. So it made sense, and I'm looking forward to getting started."

Bruce thinks it is sensible decision. He said: "Since I came through the door, I have had a big interest in what our academy is producing. With the difficulty of being on two sites, I think it's vitally important that we have a link between the two and certainly, Steve Harper will give us a better link.

"He's somebody who I had the pleasure of managing, he's went on to do his coaching badges, and he's one of that 'young brigade' who can do a little bit of coaching, but just as importantly, will give us a stronger bridge in between the first team and the academy. We welcome Steve aboard. I'm sure he'll do a great job."