Is Spanish-born Scot Jack Harper’s move to Brighton a wise choice?


Remember the name Jack Harper; he may not be very well renowned on British shores, but the young striker was heralded as a wonderkid in Spain whilst on European giants Real Madrid’s books.

However, the 19-year-old, who was born in Malaga to Scottish parents and has represented the Tartan Terriers’ youth teams, has decided to move on from Los Blancos on his own accord and join Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion for two seasons.

That is despite having two years left on his contract with the Bernabeu club, who he joined aged 13, and being offered the chance to go out on loan to develop himself as a player or stay in the C team.

It may have been a tough decision for the teenager to make, but it could turn out to be very wise, particularly if he hopes to represent his parents’ nation of Scotland in future.

Harper was recently shunned in representing the Under-19s by former Manchester United coach and Sunderland boss Ricky Sgrabia for being too much of a “luxury” player, presumably not in the typical Scottish playing style.

“At Real Madrid he can float all over the place, which he does. But with us, he has to be more disciplined,” Sgrabia explained at the time. “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.”

So, it seems that by moving to Brighton (15/2 promotion chances) in the Championship, he has signalled his intent to become more of a tactical, as well as a technical, player.

The Seagulls in particular seem to have been hand-picked by Harper, due to their past links with Scotsmen as well as their recent Spanish influence.

While Chris Hughton is the current head coach, the East Sussex side have had Oscar Garcia and Gus Poyet in charge in recent years, and currently have the likes of Spaniards Bruno, Adrian Colunga and Inigo Calderon on their books.

The Brighton club captain also happens to be current Scotland international defender Gordon Greer, who will surely take him under his wing and recommend him to senior boss national Gordon Strachan.

Other former Scotland internationals that have played for the Seagulls include Craig Mackail-Smith, Craig Conway and Liam Bridcutt in recent years.

Hughton was certainly happy to snap up the striker, saying: “Even at the age of 19, Jack is a well-known name and having spent the past six years at Real Madrid, there is no doubting his pedigree.

“He has a lot of potential, is a skilful type, with a good eye for goal, and can operate as a striker or playing just off of a striker. We hope we can give him the platform to realise his undoubted potential.

“He has had an excellent grounding, having come through the youth system at Real Madrid – and also has international experience at youth level, having featured for Scotland’s Under-17 and Under-19 sides.”

Harper, who has been tracked by Spain’s youth teams following Sgrabia’s snub, has still stuck loyal to his roots, and once said: “Even though I live in Spain, I feel Scottish, so I want to make my family proud and play for my country.”

He certainly offers something different for Brighton going forward, and has the experience of working with top coaches at Madrid, where he featured in the UEFA Youth League last season. In six matches, against Liverpool, Ludogorets Razgrad and Basel, he netted six times.

If called up for the senior Scotland side this upcoming season, he would be tasked in helping them reach the Euro 2016 finals in France, and they are now odds-on at 10/11 to qualify from Group D.

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