Hull City goalkeeper Steve Harper has dismissed any thought of retiring, despite the veteran fast approaching 40 after a career that has spanned over 22 years to date.
Harper has admitted to having talks with Steve Bruce about the issue at the start of the season. Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, Harper said: "I came back in July for pre-season and the manager spoke to me on day one.
"He told me to get all thoughts of retirement out of my head. I'll make a decision around my birthday when, in an ideal world, we'll have the 40 points on the board and be setting ourselves another target. We can talk about it then."
Bruce, who himself played well into his 30s in a career that lasted over 20 years, seems determined to hang onto Hull’s backup goalkeeper. Though Allan McGregor is Hull’s first option, Harper is in line for his 22nd appearance for the club against Arsenal on Saturday following his transfer from Newcastle in 2013.
Two decades in a strong professional career
Harper has had a glistening career that has lasted for over 22 years having joined side Seaham Red Star in 1992. He was signed by Newcastle, the club where he would play for over 20 years, in 1993.
Harper had several loan spells during the early part of his career, including stints at Bradford City, Gateshead, Stockport County, Hartlepool and Huddersfield.
Though he served as an understudy for most of his career at Newcastle, he managed to make 157 appearances for the club including the 2009-10 season where Harper was an integral part of the squad that won promotion from the Championship.
Harper was rewarded for his fine career as a Newcastle stalwart in a testimonial in 2013 against AC Milan, in a side that involved the likes of Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley.
Bruce quickly snapped up the veteran following his release in 2013, providing competition for Scottish goalkeeper Allan McGregor and adding an injection of experience into his squad.
It is likely that Harper will still stay in football after retiring from his playing career, having earned a professional referee’s licence a number of years ago.