Ex-Portsmouth winger: I played beside a genius at Fratton Park

Kevin Harper (left) celebrates with Robert Prosinecki during their time at Pompey
Kevin Harper (left) celebrates with Robert Prosinecki during their time at Pompey
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Kevin Harper feels he was fortunate to have played alongside ‘genius’ Robert Prosinecki during his time at Pompey.

The former winger, who was recently named Albion Rovers manager, rubbed shoulders with the Croatian legend during the 2001-2002 Division One season.

Prosinecki only spent that campaign on the south coast but he endeared himself to the Fratton faithful and his team-mates.

The current Bosnia manager played a key part in helping the Blues avoid relegation, netting nine times in 35 appearances. 

And Harper, who amassed more than 100 Blues appearances during his five-year stay, believes the former Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder was on a different planet to anyone he played with in his career.

He told Herald Scotland: ‘I played with some serious footballers, I mean top class, such as Teddy Sheringham, Paul Merson and Robert Prosinecki.

‘I was lucky to play beside a genius, Prosinecki was on another level. What a footballer.

‘He was 32 when I played with him and was well past his best. However, the guy was on a different planet.

‘So, I’m running down the wing one week and shouting “Robbie, Robbie” because he had the ball and I was free.

‘We got in at half-time and he says “Kevin, don’t shout, I see you”.

‘He saw everything on the pitch. Just incredible. He was still on 20 fags a day then.'

Harper joined the Blues from Derby in 2000 and struggled in the early part of his time at PO4.

But after winning over the Fratton faithful, the winger was a regular starter for Harry Redknapp's Division One title-winning team in the 2002-03 season.

The Scottish talent also featured for the Blues in the Premier League.

After what was a difficult start to life at Pompey, it's a time Harper looks back on fondly.

He added: ‘Portsmouth was terrific for me.

'I was part of saving them from relegation from what was then Division One and then we got promoted as champions on the last day of the season two seasons later.

‘Harry Redknapp would make anyone believe they were the best player in the world.

‘They booed my name when it was read out. At least at the start, so I had to get back into their good books somehow.

‘Anyway, I did that, I played most of the games and had a good season when we won the league.

‘They sang my name for the entire second half of that season.

‘Alan Knight, the goalkeeper coach who is a legend down there, said that was the first time any player had won them over.’