Jack Harper: Malaga’s Scottish forward who walked out on Real Madrid as a teenager’

Jack Harper is a Scotland Below-19 international forward

Now not many children would scramble out on Staunch Madrid.

Nonetheless Jack Harper is now not your favorite participant.

He’s a uncommon case of a Spanish-born Scot, who learned the game in southern Spain and desires of enjoying in a World Cup for Scotland.

“After I am right here in Spain I feel Spanish, when I’m going house and leer my family I feel Scottish,” he says, in a substantial Scottish accent.

Harper is bilingual. He might sound fancy a Scot when talking in English but he has a Malaga accent when talking Spanish.

The 22-yr-favorite’s occupation path additionally makes engaging reading.

From his native boys’ crew to Staunch Madrid’s effectively-known youth situation-up, then to Brighton, earlier than returning “house” to Malaga.

Harper talked about his fledgling occupation with Guillem Balague in an in-depth interview for BBC Radio 5 are living’s Football Day-to-day podcast.

It’s seemingly you’ll be ready to hear to the Euro Leagues Football Show conceal from 20:00 GMT on Thursday, 17 February on BBC Radio 5 are living – or hear to the corpulent podcast right here.

The teenage Scot at Staunch Madrid

Harper’s first coach at Staunch Madrid used to be Santiago Sanchez, who is now first-crew manager Santiago Solari’s assistant

Harper used to be born in Malaga on the Costa del Sol to Scottish fogeys, who moved with Harper’s two older siblings almost presently earlier than he used to be born.

He grew up in Fuengirola, a town a rapid drive alongside the wing from Malaga, where he first played for a junior crew.

Scouts from La Liga clubs would spy these games but it used to be whereas enjoying for Almeria in a prestigious youth match in Brunete on the outskirts of Madrid – Spanish gamers fancy Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique all played in the Brunete match in earlier years – that Harper first caught the distinction for Staunch Madrid.

“Almeria did now not beget a youth system so they known as thousands gamers from [the towns of] Malaga and Almeria and I got picked,” Harper said.

“We beat Staunch Madrid 2-zero and from there they would beget known who I used to be.”

At Thirteen, Harper joined Staunch Madrid’s academy. He made the six-hour accelerate from Malaga to are living corpulent-time at the club’s coaching ground and be trained at a non-public college, paid for by Staunch.

“I lived generally in the digs,” Harper said.

“1000’s gamers beget come by diagram of there – Juan Mata, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado – and also you are living with 50 varied children.

Harper’s strike accomplice in the Staunch Madrid youth groups used to be Borja Mayoral, who is at the moment on loan at Levante but has played 31 instances for the Staunch first crew

“Going to a non-public college is something I will repeatedly desire into consideration. Right here in Malaga I would never beget completed that.

“Being in college with 50 varied children on each day basis – you learn to grow up as an individual.”

Harper moved by diagram of the age groups at Staunch Madrid, progressing as a ways as the club’s C crew – the 2d reserve aspect.

“The dressing rooms [of the age-group teams] come by closer and closer to the first crew,” Harper said.

“In my closing yr we were in actuality close.

“I desire into consideration in the gym or in the hydrotherapy baths it is seemingly you’ll leer them and it used to be a puny of a shock before all the things, seeing of us you will beget handiest seen on television.

“Nonetheless then you definately realise they’re correct footballers fancy you and are a motivation to be enjoying against them or with them one day.”

‘I are living in my fogeys’ basement’

Passe 18, Harper had two years left on his contract in Madrid but decided to head away the Spanish giants.

“They wanted to loan me out but other than me there were one other 30 or forty gamers being loaned out so I believed it used to be an real time to head away,” he said.

From Staunch he joined English club Brighton, then in the Championship, for an undisclosed charge but did now not come by a fundamental-crew appearance in 18 months on the south wing.

“It used to be a immense change, a shock,” Harper said.

“I performed my contract at Madrid and performed with moderately a substandard knee shatter. It will still handiest beget been a one or two-month shatter but it developed into something worse. I used to be out for six months.

“Signing for a sleek crew and now not being ready to construct what you are there to construct in all fairness arduous.”

Harper joined Brighton on a two-yr deal in July 2015

Feeling the must play traditional soccer, Harper, at this stage old 20, decided to plod abet “house” to Malaga.

He joined the Spanish club, before all the things with their 2d crew, and helped them come by promotion from the zero.33 tier. The forward scored Thirteen goals in 23 games.

“I felt going house and being where I am pleased used to be essentially the most convenient option at the time – taking one step abet to head two forward and I reflect that’s what came about,” Harper said.

“In Spain, with reserve groups you are competing with men and I reflect that used to be what I wanted at the time.”

And the plod used to be now not handiest for soccer causes.

“I went straight abet to mum and pa’s,” Harper said. “I felt they owed me just a few years of being regarded after.

“I left when I used to be Thirteen, I in actuality beget handiest been house now for two years so I am generally 15.

“We’re living in a apartment and I are living in the basement. It sounds substandard but it is a ways admittedly nice. It is fancy my bag puny flat.”

‘I are attempting to play for Scotland at a World Cup’

Harper first played for the Scotland youth groups when he used to be 15

This season Harper has been a key fragment of the first crew at Malaga, who’re at the moment zero.33 in the 2d tier after relegation from La Liga closing marketing campaign.

“This yr has been a immense step up on story of I am enjoying for my house city,” he said.

“I know the of us that strengthen the club so you feel more tension. Folk’s happiness is on the road.”

The forward is eligible to play internationally for every Spain and Scotland but has been known as-up by Scotland at Below-17, Below-19 and Below-21 stage.

And Harper is in puny doubt about who he would fetch to checklist at corpulent international stage, announcing one of his occupation goals is to play for Scotland at a World Cup.

“It has repeatedly been a dream since I used to be a puny boy to come by my family proud and play for Scotland and play at Hampden,” he said.

“Confidently that time will come quickly.

“I am enjoying at a excessive ample stage that if I preserve doing what I am doing then I reflect I will come by my likelihood for the Scotland first crew.”

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