Wellington Phoenix lure Gary Hooper to the A-League
Wellington Phoenix believe they may have the club's best-ever signing, coaxing former Celtic forward Gary Hooper to the A-League.
Hooper, 31, joins as a free agent, most recently with Sheffield Wednesday, after a career in English and Scottish football.
The Englishman will be hoping to recapture his form with the Glasgow giants, where he won two titles and a golden boot.
Hooper has signed a one-season marquee deal and will miss this weekend's away trip to play Sydney FC ahead of a likely debut in round three against Perth Glory.
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His signing raises hopes that the perennial A-League strugglers may be able to back up last year's surprise finals appearance.
The Phoenix, which looked toothless and short on experience in a 1-0 round one loss to Western United, were delighted to unveil their star on Thursday.
"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.
"I'm sure that football fans across New Zealand and Australia will be thrilled to see a player like Gary in action for Wellington."
Dome raised anticipation levels on Thursday morning, taking to Twitter to parody pessimistic forecasts for his club's season.
"'No ambition' 'Playoffs are out of reach' Hmmm.....," he wrote.
The reaction from fans on the social media website was overwhelmingly positive, with many fondly recalling Hooper's spell with Celtic.
Hooper won the golden boot in 2011-12 -- wearing the same 88 shirt number he'll don in New Zealand -- as Celtic claimed their first title in four campaigns.
After another title the following season, Hooper left Scotland to play in the Premier League with Norwich City.
The wily striker has spent the last five campaigns in the second tier of English football, he was released by Sheffield Wednesday in May.
"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," he said.
Hooper was on the brink of a move to Iranian giants Esteghlal before signing with Wellington.