Despite being released in the summer, Gary Hooper appears to have firmly cemented himself as a fan favourite amongst the Hillsborough faithful.
Many Owls supporters were heartbroken when Wellington Pheonix picked him up from the free-agent market in October, with some calling for him to return to the Yorkshire club.
For a large part of the season, it seemed as if that may have been a good call as Steven Fletcher has shouldered the goalscoring responsibility almost alone for much of the early part of the campaign and Atdhe Nuhiu, Sam Winnall, and Jordan Rhodes have offered little support.
Rhodes’ hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest suggests that Garry Monk may have options outside the Scotsman after all, though the jury remains out on that.
But what of Hooper? The 31-year-old, perhaps known best for his time at Celtic, arrived at Hillsborough from Norwich City in the summer of 2016 and spent four seasons at the club in total.
Injuries hampered the striker’s time with the Owls but he was a useful option when available–scoring 31 times and providing 12 assists in 89 appearances, with his most fruitful season producing 13 goals.
While it was not a surprise to see him released in the summer, given he made only six appearances last season, it perhaps was one to see him sign with A-League side Wellington Pheonix in October.
Considering his lack of game time last season and the months he spent without a club, the slow start that he has made with Wellington is understandable.
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Hooper has made five appearances for his new side, including one start, and has played for 90 minutes in total (Wyscout)–finding the net via a diving back-post header with his only shot on target so far.
His side have climbed up to fifth in the A-League and the 31-year-old will undoubtedly be hoping that as the season wears on he can play a bigger role and help them move further up the table.
You’d imagine most Wednesday fans will be hoping he is a success down under.