EXCLUSIVE By James Bryce
THE dad of a highly-rated Scottish footballer signed by Real Madrid has played down his son’s chances of becoming the next Cristiano Ronaldo.
John Harper, 46, is keen to allow his son Jack, 15, to develop his career without the burden of expectation that has weighed so heavily on the shoulders of other young prospects.
The youngster – a third year scholar at the club having joined in 2009 – was invited for a trial after being spotted playing for his local team Los Boliches, in Fuengirola.
“We don’t want to build him up too much because we know how easily it can all be snatched away from you,” the father-of-four told the Olive Press.
“It was so tense waiting to hear whether he had been offered a place after the trial and it was a massive relief when he was accepted.”
Keeping a lid on the hype could prove difficult after Real youth coach Santiago Sanchez last year told The Sun that Jack was one of the hottest prospects to play for Real Madrid in the near future.
But Harper, who moved to Fuengirola 17 years ago, with his wife Tracy and family, claims his son is level-headed enough to handle it.
“Jack was homesick to start with but he loves his life in Madrid now, and his older brother (Ryan, 24, a reserve team player at Real Betis) keeps him grounded,” Harper added.
For Jack – born in Spain but who has represented Scotland at under-15 and under-16 level – the future looks bright.
And with 13-year-old Mac following in the footstep’s of his two older brothers at Fuengirola, the Harper family could soon be celebrating a hat-trick.