The upcoming season of the Indian Super League will witness 73 overseas players playing in the top-flight of Indian football. Several of these players have played in the top leagues across the world and Gary Hooper is one of them.
Having been recruited by Kerala Blasters FC from Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, Hooper comes into a side that boasts of big names from European football such as Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu, and Vicente Gomez. With Kibu Vicuna at the helm of the club, a spot in the playoffs is something that the management will be targeting this season.
As far as Gary Hooper is concerned, India will be his latest destination across the globe to play football. The player previously made a name for himself in Scotland, England, and Australia. The 32-year-old is also one of the few names on the list of potential captains for the Blasters this season.
Hooper is also likely to be a contender for the coveted Golden Boot, an award that has been claimed by the likes of Elano and Coro in the recent past. He will be competing with the likes of Nerijus Valskis, Roy Krishna, and Bartholomew Ogbeche, all of whom won the Golden Boot last season.
Hooper will also be competing with newcomers Adam le Fondre and Cleiton Silva for the top goalscorer's distinction this season.
The Kerala Blasters set to begin their ISL 2020/21 campaign this week. Here are a few things fans need to know about Gary Hooper before the team's first game against ATK Mohun Bagan on 20th November.
Gary Hooper's career trajectory
English Premier League experience
Hooper's phenomenal goalscoring prowess with Celtic earned him legendary status in Scottish football. In just three seasons with the club, the 32-year-old managed 63 goals in the SPL and 19 goals in other competitions, adding up to 82 goals in just 138 games.
This feat made him a much sought-after commodity in Europe, and in particular, the United Kingdom. Hooper eventually signed with Norwich City FC at the start of the 2013-14 season and was their foremost striker for the season.
Although he managed just 6 goals, he formed a formidable partnership with Ricky van Wolfswinkel and was the top goalscorer for the Canaries that season. Norwich City would be relegated that year along with Fulham and Cardiff City.
The following season in the Championship saw Gary Hooper form a partnership with Cameron Jerome under new manager Alex Neil. The 2014/15 season witnessed Hooper score 12 goals in 30 appearances, helping Norwich City to a third position finish on the table.
Gary Hooper would help the Canaries achieve promotion before signing for Championship side Sheffield Wednesday the following season.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Hooper stated that his most memorable Premier League moment was when he scored his first goal in the EPL against West Ham United. Gary Hooper made his debut for the Canaries in a fixture against Aston Villa.
Playing in the UEFA Champions League
Hooper has made a few appearances in UEFA competitions, most notably in the UEFA Champions League during his time with Celtic.
Speaking about his experience in the Champions League, Gary Hooper said:
"I’ve played against a few of the best players in the world in the Champions League. It was an amazing experience as these players are on another level in terms of their skill and mentality. They are prepared and always turn up in the big games."
The 'No. 88' myth
In almost all the teams he has played for, Gary Hooper has worn the number 88 jersey. The most plausible reason for him donning this jersey is that he was born in the year 1988.
Gary Hooper has also spoken about his prowess as a striker and what an ideal striker must possess ahead of the season, saying:
"To be a top striker, one needs to score goals and help the team win. It is also important for a striker to have the composure and awareness to hold up the ball and get others involved in the attack."Published 18 Nov 2020, 16:14 IST