BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Jack Harper is ready to prove he is anything but a “luxury player” by combining Spanish style with Scottish graft at Brighton and Hove Albion.
The highly-rated 19-year-old this week gave up on his Real Madrid dream by penning a two-year deal with English Championship outfit.
Malaga-born Harper, who was coached by French icon Zinedine Zidane, was on the books at the Bernabeu from the age of of 13 and trained alongside some of the most talented youngsters in world football.
He aims to mix that refined apprenticeship with a tireless work ethic, despite Scotland under-19s manager Ricky Sbragia calling his discipline into question earlier this year.
Sbragia said in March: “At Real Madrid he can float all over the place, which he does. But with us, he has to be more disciplined.
“He’s an exceptionally gifted lad, but sometimes we can’t carry him. He can be a luxury sometimes. In some cases, if it’s going well, he can be a good luxury.”
However, at his unveiling at Brighton yesterday Harper was adamant that his Scottish heritage will ensure he is no passenger.
Harper said: “I’ve got experience of playing in a different country and I’m ready to bring it to England.
“I would say that I’m a natural goalscorer – and I’ve got the natural Spanish technique, but I work like a Scotsman!
“Talking with my family and my agent, I felt that this was the best option for my future. Brighton is a club on the rise, so it was perfect situation for me to go forward.”
Harper was thought to be highly-regarded at the Bernabeu but decided that his playing time would be limited following the news that they were scrapping their ‘C’ team.
Instead of pursuing a loan deal in the Spanish lower leagues or reported interest from Italy, he will try his luck in the second tier of English football.
And another Scotland internationalist, Gordon Greer, is already helping him to settle in at the Seagulls.
He told Brighton’s official website: “I want more first-team football and it was getting quite complicated at Real Madrid.
“Gordon Greer already welcomed me to the club when I arrived, he was a great help and is a really nice guy. He’s someone who made his name here at the club and it’s something that I would like to do as well.”