What happened to the Scottish wonderkid who signed for Real Madrid at 13?

Remember when Real Madrid signed a Scottish 13-year-old in 2009?

OK, maybe not. But it happened. Honest.

Jack Harper was barely in his teens when he was brought in at the Santiago Bernabeu. Born in Malaga, but a proud Scot (his parents are from Barrhead, near Glasgow), Harper found himself joining a club that had just signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Kaka.

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There was quite the fanfare in the British press when a teenager from these shores rocked up at Real Madrid, and it initially appeared he was more than up to the task.

In 2013 he officially graduated to the Real Under-18 team, and trained alongside the likes of now-manager Zinedine Zidane.

He said: “Zinedine Zidane was a quiet, shy person – but he spoke with his feet.

“I worked with them a few times. His touch was incredible and I’m sure he could still play at a high level.”

Harper also caught the eye of the Scotland international coaches, playing at every youth level.

But he didn’t make it into the Bernabeu first-team, and, at 19, joined Brighton in 2015. A skilful attacker, it appeared as though this would be his break, but it didn’t quite work out for him at Brighton either.

In 2017 Harper returned to Spain, joining his hometown club Malaga.

Now 22, he’s got plenty of time to eek out a memorable career, but he’s currently plying his trade for Malaga’s reserves, waiting for his first-team chance.

In terms of ambitions, it couldn’t be clearer what Harper wants from his career in football.

“My ultimate ambition is to play for Scotland in a World Cup. That’s never changed. It’s the dream,” he said.

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alexhorlock

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