FORMER Celtic striker Gary Hooper has signed a one year contract with New Zealand side Wellington Phoenix.
Wellington Phoenix describe their new signing on their official website as “a marquee striker for the Hyundai A-League 19/20 season.”
The 31-year old English Striker will be available for the Wellington Phoenix for their round three match vs.Perth Glory on 27 October 2019.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says that he is confident Hooper is the missing piece the club has been looking for.
“It’s been no secret that we’ve been searching incredibly hard for a striker this season and we’re extremely pleased to sign someone of the highest calibre in Gary Hooper.”
“His CV is on paper arguably the most impressive of any Wellington Phoenix player to date and I have no doubt he’ll contribute – and I’m sure that football fans across New Zealand and Australia will be thrilled to see a player like Gary in action for Wellington.”
The Kiwi club also note that Hooper has an enviable record as a proven and prolific goal scorer having scored 198 goals in some of the toughest leagues in the world, including scoring twice in the UEFA Champions League.
He is the first and only player ever to have scored in the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, FA Cup, League Cup, Football League Trophy, FA Trophy, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Premier League.
Hooper was also approached by Iranian club Esteghlal but opted to join the Phoenix on a one-year deal following a discussion with coach Ufuk Talay.
“The wait has been worthwhile. With all the players we’ve gone through, we’ve gone through all their attributes and also their personalities to see how they would fit into the team environment, and Gary fits that mould. I’m very excited to have Gary here and look forward to getting him on the field.
“He fits into the way we want to play. We play with two strikers up front and Gary is very prolific in front of goal. If you look at his CV he’s played over 400 games and scored close to 200 goals, and that’s what we need in this team; someone who is going to score goals up front and also give us leadership.
“To have a player of his quality here is exciting not just for Wellington Phoenix but for the A-League, and I’m very happy that he’s here,” Talay said.
“Gary is a prolific goal-scorer, he’s shown that in his career and I think that’s something that every team needs. Everyone is looking for that player that is going to score you a lot of goals.
“I think the fans should be excited, not just about Gary but about the team and how they are playing. The result was disappointing but the performance on the weekend was great and you can see the potential and the room to grow.”
Hooper’s most prolific spell occurred when he scored 63 goals for Celtic between 2010 and 2013 before leaving two sign for Norwich City, where he went on to make 34 appearances in the Premier League.
The former Celtic striker who will wear the Number 88 shirt in New Zealand, was delighted that the move had been completed. “This is a new challenge for me,” Hooper said.
“I spoke to the manager a couple of weeks ago, he told me how he wanted to play. I spoke to Tails [captain Steven Taylor]and he told me about the city, told me about the league. It’s going to be completely different to what I’m used to but I’m excited for a new challenge.
— Wellington Phoenix (@WgtnPhoenixFC) October 17, 2019
“I know it’s the other side of the world for me but the other lads are going to help me through the season, and the manager and everyone else on the staff.
“I’m here to play football and score goals and get into the top-six. You’ve seen the record, I’ve scored in all the leagues in England and Scotland, hopefully I can do it out here too. I’m injury-free, that’s in the past, it’s just about getting on the field now.”
With plenty of Celts in New Zealand and indeed Australia for the away games, Hooper will soon discover he’s got plenty of Hoops fans on his side wherever he plays! Good luck with the move Gary.
— Gary Hooper (@HOOP588) October 17, 2019
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