Gary Hooper hopes that moving to Norwich City from Celtic will enhance his bid for a place in England’s World Cup squad next summer.
The 25-year-old signed from Celtic last week and met up with the Norwich squad on Sunday following their return from the United States.
The Canaries’ long-standing interest and the prospect of playing in the Barclays Premier League persuaded Hooper to swap Champions League nights at Parkhead and the goldfish bowl that is football in Glasgow for Norfolk.
His aims are simple after moving to Carrow Road on a three-year deal, with Norwich having the option of a further year.
“[To] score goals,” Hooper said as he was officially unveiled yesterday afternoon. “That’s what I get paid for, that’s what the gaffer got me in for and that’s the challenge: to play and score goals.
“I wanted to play in the Premiership and to try to get an England call-up. I think there’s a good chance of that.”
Hooper felt that at Celtic the opportunity for England recognition was limited, even though he came close to a call-up under Roy Hodgson earlier this year, only to be ruled out through injury.
“You don’t really get a look in up there,” Hooper said. “Down here you’ve got more chance. The main thing is playing, getting on the pitch first, and doing what I do. To play for your country is anyone’s dream, but my first dream is to play in the Premiership.”
Manager Chris Hughton supports Hooper’s ambition. “He’s got to play well enough for Norwich City Football Club and score goals and prove that he can do it in this very, very difficult league,” Hughton said.
“That’s the reason why he’s here and that’s the wonderful challenge that he has.”
Hooper scored 31 goals for Scottish champions Celtic last season and is the Canaries’ seventh summer signing.
He was Celtic’s leading goalscorer for the past three seasons, having joined from Scunthorpe in 2010 for £2.4 million.
Hooper could have joined sooner, but opted to stay in Glasgow in January to be part of Celtic’s Champions League campaign. Hooper added: “I had the Champions League and Celtic wanted to keep me. It was a tough decision, but I’m here now and I’m happy.”
QPR also had a bid accepted for Hooper. The Championship club’s manager, Harry Redknapp, claimed at the weekend that QPR were Hooper’s first choice, and yesterday the striker admitted that he carefully considered a move to Loftus Road. “I was close, but I wanted to come here and play in the Premiership,” Hooper added.
“I’ve never played in the Premiership. I’ve played in every league, scored in every league and the next challenge is the Premiership.”
Hooper is the second striker recruited this summer by Hughton, following the record signing of Dutch international Ricky van Wolfswinkel for £8.5 million from Sporting Lisbon. After losing team talisman Grant Holt, supporters will be looking to Van Wolfswinkel and Hooper, who could make his debut against Brighton tomorrow, to fill the void.
Hughton will demand that the duo put the team first. He said: “It’s not just about scoring goals. This is a very tough division. What they first have to be is a good team player. “What he has got on his CV is that he’s used to scoring goals. It’s for us to make sure we have the right combinations to give him the opportunity to score goals.”
Norwich have also signed Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer from FC Twente, Birmingham wing Nathan Redmond, left-backs Javier Garrido and Martin Olsson plus the goalkeeper Carlo Nash. Hughton is still looking, but is happy to have made signings early in the transfer window. “We’re delighted at this stage to have brought in what we have,” Hughton said.