Ex-Canaries striker opts for move to New Zealand
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Former Norwich City striker Gary Hooper has signed for Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.
The 31-year-old - a free agent after being released by Sheffield Wednesday in May - was on the brink of a move to Iranian giants Esteghlal before signing with the A-League side.
"I'm happy to be here in Wellington, it's a new challenge for me and I'm really excited about being part of the Wellington Phoenix club," said Hooper, who scored 18 goals in 64 league appearances for City, between July 2013, when he joined for £5m from Celtic, and January 2016, when he joined Wednesday for £3m.
Hooper has signed a one-season deal but will miss this weekend's away trip to play Sydney FC, with his debut likely to be in round three against Perth Glory.
Phoenix lost their opening game of the season, but consider the signing of Hooper to be a major breakthrough.
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"It's been no secret that we've been searching incredibly hard for a striker this season," said Wellington chief executive David Dome. "We're extremely pleased to sign someone of the highest calibre in Gary Hooper.
"His CV is on paper arguably the most impressive of any Wellington Phoenix player to date and I have no doubt he'll contribute.
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"I'm sure that football fans across New Zealand and Australia will be thrilled to see a player like Gary in action for Wellington."
Hooper struggled to settle at Norwich, with his three years at Celtic the highlight of his career: he helped the Glasgow giants to the title in 2011-12 - their first title in four campaigns - and the following season.