Is It Gary Hooper’s Time?
After his historic strike in Celtics 3-2 win away to Spartak Moscow, the Bhoys first away win in Europe in 19 games, Hoops hot shot Gary Hooper has been the man on everyone’s lips, does Hooper deserve a England call up? That is the question many are asking.
In short for me yes…
As a keen follower of Celtic I believe the goal scoring record of Gary Hooper illustrates perfectly why Hooper is deserving of recognition at international level. Hooper is definitely one thing; a natural goal scorer. Here’s his stats, 24 goals to help Scunthorpe gain promotion to the championship. This was followed by 19 in the league, the following season in a Scunthorpe side that narrowly avoided relegation from England’s second tier, finishing third in the division top scorer list ahead of 35million pound man Andy Carroll. Its at Celtic where the former Gray’s goal getters knack for scoring has become even more impressive, helping himself to 46 in 69 in the SPL and a credible 6 in 13 in a Celtic side who often struggle in Europe.
With stats like that he should be an England regular, right? WRONG! Gary Hooper has never represented the Three Lions, at any youth level and there is speculation he may opt to represent Scotland should a call not be forthcoming.
The reason I and many feel Gary has been over looked is the fact his career has taken a less glamorous trajectory than the regular England player. Gary has worked his way through the league pyramid, before opting to sign for Celtic, despite reported offers from QPR, then Championship title contenders.
Hooper took the opportunity to represent one of the world’s biggest clubs, a choice that has led him to become a hero for hundreds of thousands of Hoops worldwide, but left him almost forgotten in his own country. This is a fate that until Roy Hodgson’s squad announcement yesterday also blighted Fraser Forster, who is the first Hoop to gain a call up since Sven gave Alan Thompson a call for a friendly against Sweden 2004. Forster is fully deserving of his call up, he is I believe behind Ben Foster and of course Joe Hart is England’s best glove-man but has been largely ignored, mainly because of his choice to play in the unglamorous much maligned SPL rather than gain experience in the championship on loan from his parent club Newcastle.
The snobbery towards the perceived lack of quality in the SPL has led to decent players being ignored and Hooper’s feats have been belittled due to the standard being seen as so poor. But lets have a look; two former SPL goal scorers have set the premier league alight in the last year Jelavic at Everton and Fletcher at Wolves / Sunderland. Jelavic many wrote off saying ‘he can do it in the SPL, he won’t be able to in the premiership’, it took Jelavic no time to hit the ground running smashing in 9 in 13 games last season after joining in the January transfer window. Steven Fletcher another from the SPL has been more than good enough to do it in the Premier League. Both Jelavic and Fletcher have records in the SPL comparable to Hooper’s and if English would arguably have been recognised by England.
A positive for Gary Hooper is, though he may be playing in an unglamorous league, national coach Roy is still watching. The evidence is Forster’s call up and Roy also seems willing to choose players from unglamorous clubs for the national side (Ryan Shawcross Stoke City). So should Gary Hooper get a long over due crack at the EPL he wouldn’t have to like in the past fear being over looked simply because he didn’t play for the top 4 like in previous regimes.
I think it’s definitely the time for Gary Hooper to get a call up to the squad, even if it’s just for Roy to have a look. England aren’t exactly blessed with strikers as for me beyond Rooney and the on fire Defoe the rest of the options Bent, Welbeck, Carroll, Lambert, Zamora are all terrifically average. Hooper should at least be given a chance to give Roy another option.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)