Newcastle United have decided not to renew Steve Harper's contract. That means that once this summer begins, Harper's 20-year career with Newcastle will be over.
This does not come out of nowhere. The 38-year-old Harper was not included as a back-up keeper to Rob Elliot in recent Europa League matches. Harper says he is still very fit and would like to play some more. He may also become a referee or go into coaching. Per the Daily Mail:
'Ultimately I would have liked to have played a lot more games but I’ve loved it. It’s a great club. It will be a sad day for me after the game with Arsenal on May 19.
'I’ll look at all options in the summer.
Though Harper has been with Newcastle for 20 years, he hasn't played a lot. Despite playing in the Premiership and various European campaigns, Harper has only made 197 appearances for the club. To compare, Jonas Gutierrez has been with the club since 2008 and has made 167 appearances for the Magpies. Harper says that when Shay Given was Newcastle's goaltender in the early 2000's, he should have maybe moved on. He tells the BBC:
"Ultimately I wanted to stay and play week in, week out, which I did over two, two-and-a-half years, and not many people get the opportunity to do that at such a fantastic club."
This raises some questions as to whether or not Harper's loyalty cost him. Obviously, we want athletes to be loyal to clubs, but they also want to play and compete. We wish Harper well in his future, whether it's playing a few more seasons or going into management.