Hooper hoping for happy reunion in Premier League with ex-roommate (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Hooper hoping for happy reunion in Premier League with ex-roommate
12:48pm Monday 8th June 2009 in Sport
GARY Hooper is aiming to emulate his former roommate Michael Kightly's achievement by playing in the Premier League.
The Harlow-born striker, who grew up in Loughton, has fond memories of his former colleague when they played together at Blue Square Premier outfit Grays Athletic.
Kightly will be competing against Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal next season for Wolverhampton Wanderers, who won the Championship title last season.
Speaking about his former teammate, Hooper said: "I still keep in touch with Michael. He sent me a signed shirt with a message. But unfortunately I can't remember what it is. He's a different player now. (Wolves manager) Mick McCarthy has done great with him.
"I played with him for a season at Grays. He was on the right-wing. He was quick and pacey but now he can play on both flanks and is an all round better player."
Like his ex-roommate, the Scunthorpe striker has also experienced promotion with The Iron, having beaten Millwall in the League One playoff final, and is also looking forward to pitting his wits against big clubs like Newcastle United, Middlesborough, and Nottingham Forest.
"Playing against clubs like Newcastle is every players dream. Last season they were in the Premier League and to play in front of 50,000 at St James' Park," Hooper said.
And despite Scunthorpe having just been promoted, Hooper already has lofty ambitions for the Lincolnshire side.
"If Burnley got promotion last season then there is no reason why Scunny can't either," Hooper insisted. Having scored 30 goals in all competitions last term in his first season with the club, Hooper's contribution would be vital if Scunthorpe are to make a promotion charge. The 21-year-old has already set himself a target of 15 goals next season.
Last season was also memorable for Hooper because he played at Wembley twice and even scored in Scunthorpe's surprising defeat against Luton Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.
He said: "Scoring at Wembley was a dream come true. It's ever players' dream to play at Wembley and doing it twice is a great experience."
Hooper also has fond memories from the club's presentation night having scooped the player of the season award, the fans away player of the year and the London player of the year.
"I was shocked when I won the player of the year award. Scunthorpe has the likes of Paul Hayes and Cliff Byrne who I thought would win," he said.
However, if Hooper builds on his stunning start he could well be claiming more awards as well as bumping into his former roommate on the pitch.