Sheffield Wednesday: Former Owl seals 'marquee' New Zealand move
Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Gary Hooper has completed a move to New Zealand-based Wellington Phoenix.
The 31-year-old has been on the lookout for a club since he was released by the Owls at the end of his contract in May and Hooper, who bagged 43 goals in four injury-littered years for Wednesday, will now ply his trade for ‘the Nix’ in the Australian A-League.
Hooper will take his place as one of the club’s two ‘marquee players’ in a ruling that allows A-League clubs to break wage caps to bring high-profile players down under.
Speaking at a high-profile unveiling, Hooper said: “This is a new challenge for me.
“I spoke to the manager a couple of weeks ago, he told me how he wanted to play. I spoke to Tails [former Newcastle United defender 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.
“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.”
The former Celtic man had been linked with a move back to Glasgow this summer as well as with Bristol City, who announced the signing of former Owl loanee Rodri yesterday.
He had also travelled to Istanbul for eyebrow-raising talks with Iranian club Esteghlal over the weekend.
Phoenix manager Ufuk Talay expressed his delight at Hooper’s signing: “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.”