Gary Hooper reportedly close to Iran move weeks after Celtic interest

By David Walton

October 7, 2019

Gary Hooper’s future was something of an interest to Celtic fans in the summer.

The reason? The former Sheffield Wednesday star was linked with a return back to Celtic to be reunited with Neil Lennon (Scottish Sun). Lennon originally signed Hooper from Scunthorpe back in 2010. However, a potential return wasn’t an idea that was met with widespread approval amongst the support.

In the end, nothing came of it. Hooper continued to be a free agent after being released by Wednesday. Celtic decided to move ahead with Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths, and Vakoun Issouf Bayo respectively.

Neil Lennon originally worked with Gary Hooper for several years at Parkhead (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

However, there could finally be movement regarding the 31-year-old’s future. And that’s because the Tasnim News Agency has revealed that he’s in talks with Esteghal of Iran.

According to the source, Hooper has reached an agreement with the Iranian side. They play their football in Tehran, and are apparently looking to Hooper as their main goalscorer. They also signed Malian striker Cheick Diabate in the summer, but he has yet to score in three appearances for the Iranians.

An odd move – but one he’s entitled to make

It’s now October, and still nobody in Britain has decided to take a punt on Hooper. Or, at the very least, nobody he wants to entertain at this current moment.

It could be the case that he now sees himself as needing to find somewhere to play. A move to Iran, however, would certainly be out there in terms of uniqueness.

Hooper was released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last season (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Esteghal are 11th in the Persian Gulf Pro League. But the promise of a new culture and new way of life could appeal to Hooper, who has never left British football in his career.

The lack of interest in him also probably shows that Celtic made the right decision in not moving for him. He was a lethal goalscorer back in his day, and can still do a job for a lower-league club if given the chance. The fact he left Sheffield having scored 31 goals in 89 games proves that. It’s not spectacular, but it proves he can still find the net.

A return to Celtic was surely never on the cards (Graham Stuart/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, this report could be a lot of nonsense. But there’s definitely something intriguing about the possibility of it happening. Considering the report states that they’ve reached an agreement, there must be something in it.

But for now, it makes the link to Celtic last summer all the more bizarre. Is Hooper truly at the stage in his career where he wants to try something totally new? Let’s wait and see.