Lee Harper – the Arsenal keeper who never let in a goal

Lee Harper was perhaps the most curious signing of George Graham – or maybe George Graham saw something in the goal keeper that no one else could see.

Here is his Arsenal career in brief:

He was signed by Graham in June 1994and cost the club £150,000 – apparently one of the biggest fees paid for a non league player at the time.

He became third choice keeper in a club which also had David Seaman and Vince Bartram on the books. Seaman was signed in 1990 and Vince Bartram was signed from Bournemouth in 1994 for £250,000.

George Graham himself was sacked in February 1995 so what he really intended (other than the fact that he was looking for two players who might develop) we won’t know. Seaman himself hardly missed a game.

Harper’s one game was a 2–0 League win against Southampton on 15 March 1997. A couple of month’s later he moved to QPR.

Bartram himself only played 11 games as Seaman’s understudy.

So here we have George Graham signing two players as understudy for Seaman, one of whom played 11 games and one who played once.

To make the picture a little clearer here are all the goalkeepers of the era:

Goal keeper Seasons Signed by…
David Seaman 1990-2003 George Graham
Lee Harper 1994-1997 George Graham
Vince Bartram 1994-1998 George Graham
John Lukic 1996-2000 George Graham
Alex Manninger 1997-2002 Arsène Wenger

After Arsenal Harper went to QPR, Walsall, Northampton Town and MK Dons, before being player manager of Kettering Town for a short period. He played 156 times for Northampton and 112 for Kettering Town.

He now runs a goalkeeping course in Reading.

The books…

See also…


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