Hooper wants England call
Gary Hooper is hopeful his goal-scoring exploits in Scotland will be rewarded with a call-up to the England squad.
By Chris Hammer
Last Updated: 15/05/12 11:42pm
Gary Hooper is hopeful his goal-scoring exploits in Scotland this season will be rewarded with a call-up to Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2012.
The uncapped 24-year-old striker further staked his claim for a spot on the plane to Ukraine and Poland by scoring all five goals in Celtic's 5-0 thrashing of Hearts on Sunday as the Scottish Premier League champions celebrated lifting the trophy in style.
Hooper's stunning display took his tally in all competitions to 29 and also earned him the Golden Boot as the SPL's top scorer while he also became the first Hoops player since Dixie Deans in 1973 to net five in one game.
And although new England boss Hodgson has hinted he will make few surprises when naming his 23-man squad on Wednesday, the former Scunthorpe frontman feels he may finally get his chance to show what he can do on the international stage having been previously overlooked by Fabio Capello.
He said: "I'd love to be called up for England. That's been my dream since I was a boy, along with playing in the Premiership. Even if I was called up just to train and be around the rest of the squad, that would be fantastic.
"It has been frustrating in a way to be overlooked. I scored 22 last season and 29 this season so it's frustrating to score all these goals and not get a look in so far.
"When Capello was manager I thought he just looked in the Premiership for English players, but with Roy Hodgson it could be different. He's a top manager and I personally feel I've got another chance to play for England now."
Wayne Rooney - who will be suspended for the opening two group games of Euro 2012 - is the only Englishman from the Premier League to have scored more than Hooper and the Celtic star feels he can't be ignored for much longer.
He said: "Maybe I might need to play in England sometime in the future but if I keep scoring the goals they can't keep looking away and I should get a chance.
"It's hard to say what Roy Hodgson should do because he's just got the job. But maybe a few new faces could freshen up the squad and help the other players."
Even if Hooper doesn't get the call, he won't let it overshadow the best season of his career to date.
The former Southend man, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise since starting out at non-league side Grays back in 2003/04, said: "This season has certainly been the highlight of my career so far having won the league and got the golden boot.
"Coming back from 15 points behind and winning it by 10 - if you take Rangers' deduction away - has been an amazing achievement.
"I think the five goals I scored was my best moment because I've never done that before and the last person to do that was Dixie Deans.
"But I wanted six. With a couple of minutes to go Paddy McCourt put me through but the pass was just too hard. But if I'd got the sixth that would have been another record and got me to 30 goals for the season."
Hooper insists he is hungry to improve even more next season and hopes to fire Celtic into the Champions League group stages.
He added: "My target next season will be to win the league again, get the Golden Boot and beat my total of 29 goals.
"We had a few games in Europe last season and were a bit unlucky against Udinese and Atletico Madrid. But I think we've improved a lot since then and if we can take that form into the Champions League qualifiers than we can get through. It would be a dream come true."