Gary Hooper: the man who threw it all away.
Signed from Scunthorpe United for a nominal £2.4million back in 2010, Gary Hooper is what we would like to call a bargain. A genuine threat in the penalty box with dogged talents like a rabid Sunday league player, he had it all (sort of) to become a scruffy fan favourite – someone who never made it look pretty, but got the job done when asked. Proper old school kind of stuff, you know, which appealed to the more nostalgic amongst us.
Sometimes footballers are not the most intelligent creatures in the world and we can only imagine Gary Hooper was having a particularly vacant day when he decided to swap Celtic for Norwich City in 2013.
Blimey – it makes us cringe just thinking about it.
Just like exchanging your shiny new Zinedine Zidane World Cup sticker for a Scott Booth back in the day, switching from Parkhead to Carrow Road was a downgrade of disastrously epic proportions.
Despite the former Celtic man, who collected 63 goals in 95 games at Parkhead, scoring eight goals in his debut season – a nominal return, really – he could do little to prevent the Canaries from having their wings clipped and thrown back into the melee of Championship football.
A third-place finish in the second tier the following year somehow does not really compare to the ecstasy of dominating domestic football in Scotland and turning out in the Champions League, but it was all he had. Norwich were promoted to the Premier League and Hooper was handed another chance to shine. But shine he did not.
Injuries and other unknown factors hampered his career in East Anglia and after making just two appearances in the Premier League during the 2015/16 campaign he was finally disposed of, Sheffield Wednesday and eternal inferiority the suitors.
Indeed, if he had lofty ambitions of living his dream of becoming one of the finest in the land, Yorkshire was definitely not the place for it to happen. Goals came aplenty (31 in 88 appearances in all competitions), we must admit, but Wednesday have been desperately short of tangible results for years since being relegated from the top flight, and it seemed almost certain that it was not going to improve with the help of Hooper – despite his best efforts. It just seemed like a bit of a waste of time.
Unsurprisingly, four years later and not a single thing to show for it Hooper, who is now a free agent, never made it back into the Premier League or Europe, and is apparently on Neil Lennon’s shopping list (as per the Sun) should he become the next permanent manager of Celtic.
Run away, Celtic. Run as fast and as far as you possibly can.
Celtic fans, what are your standout memories of Gary Hooper? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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