Gary Hooper says Cup double ‘pinnacle’ of career

Gary Hooper rated his two goals against Hibernian as the pinnacle of his career so far after they helped Celtic win the double.

Celtic's Gary Hooper celebrates. Picture: SNS
Celtic's Gary Hooper celebrates. Picture: SNS

The 25-year-old twice finished clinically in the first half at Hampden Park on Sunday to set Celtic on the way to a 3-0 William Hill Scottish Cup final win.

The victory rounded off a memorable season for the Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions, whose exploits in reaching the last 16 of the Champions League proved the highlight. Hooper added a further personal achievement as his goals took him through the 30 mark for the season.

“It was a great win in the end and we’re delighted with the double,” the Englishman told Celtic’s official website. “This, getting to the last 16, winning the league, and scoring 31 goals, I’m at the top of my career.

“At the start of the season my aim was to beat last year’s goals total and I did that two games ago. I was unlucky not to get to 20 in the league but I wanted to get past 30 overall and I managed that.

“This feels even better than the first time we won the Scottish Cup two years ago because we did this one in style. We’ve also got the league win and the Champions League run behind us so this has been my best season at the club.

“Playing like that, like we did at Hampden, really topped it off.”

Hooper has struck up an excellent understanding with Anthony Stokes during his time at Celtic Park and the Irishman set up both of his goals in the final.

Stokes also had a hand in the third as he released Mikael Lustig to cross for Joe Ledley to power home.

“It was great to have him playing next to me,” Hooper said. “He’s a great striker and he works his socks off. He showed again how good he is at setting up goals but he was looking for one himself towards the end.

“He put the two crosses in for me and I’m glad he got the man-of-the-match award because he worked his socks off.

“My goals came from two great balls from him, one right foot and one left foot. I had a chance for a third but I completely missed it.

“Joe Ledley was there, though, and he scored. I hurt myself somehow when I missed the ball but Joe closed his eyes and thumped it. I’m joking, of course. It was a good shot.”