Gary Hooper knew the writing was on the wall at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Gary Hooper aims to prove he can cut it in the Premier League with Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday after his sour spell at Norwich City.
Hooper moved to the Owls in January after a bit-part role under Alex Neil and has scored 11 times in 30 appearances for the Yorkshire outfit, who will seal a play-off place this weekend if they avoid defeat to Cardiff City at Hillsborough.
The 28-year-old notched 18 goals in 64 league games for the Canaries following his move from Celtic in 2013, but the former Scunthorpe striker admitted being overlooked for Norwich's play-off final Wembley win against Middlesbrough was the point of no return at Carrow Road.
'I knew then that I had to get out on loan,' he says. 'Alex Neil didn't say I wasn't going to play but he did buy a couple of strikers so the message was pretty clear. It wasn't the best couple of years, but I don't regret it.
'I loved my time at Celtic. It was the highlight of my career. Champions League, Europa League, Old Firm games. For a lad who started his career at Grays Athletic it was a dream. The Scottish League doesn't register in England. I was top scorer three years running up there. I scored against Spartak Moscow, home and away. But apart from that once, the England manager never watched me.'
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Hooper made two Premier League substitute appearances this season but scored six goals in 32 top flight appearances under former Norwich chief Chris Hughton back in 2013/14.
'It was frustrating,' he said, speaking to the League Paper. 'It's such a hard league and Norwich were struggling (that season). We basically defended for 60-70 minutes of every game and that generally meant playing 4-5-1.
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'It was hard enough to get on the pitch, and even if you did it was hard to get on the ball. I scored six goals from hardly starting in a team that didn't make many chances so I'm not unhappy with what I did. Do I see myself as a Premier League player? Yeah, I do. I've proved it.'