A HEAD­LINE I’VE BEEN REL­ISH­ING!

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Nick Lough

TOM HOP­PER says he is in­debted to Scun­thorpe for tak­ing a punt on him af­ter his sack­ing by Le­ices­ter City last sum­mer. He told The FLP he hoped the next ma­jor head­line writ­ten about him would be for the right rea­son – so, mis­sion ac­com­plished!

The 22-year-old striker’s life was turned up­side down when he had his con­tract ter­mi­nated at the King Power Sta­dium, along with team-mates James Pear­son and Adam Smith, af­ter a video emerged of them tak­ing part in an orgy in Bangkok on the club’s end-of-sea­son tour.

The trio were sent home from Thai­land – na­tive coun­try of the sur­prise Premier League lead­ers’ own­ers – af­ter the video, in which a lo­cal girl was racially abused, was made pub­lic by the Sun­day Mir­ror.

While Smith and Pear­son had to set­tle for drop­ping down to League Two, af­ter sign­ing for Northamp­ton and Bar­net re­spec­tively, Hop­per earned his move to League One Iron af­ter im­press­ing in a pre­vi­ous loan.

He be­lieves he owes a lot to the trust put in him by the club’s coach­ing staff.

“Scun­thorpe have been great to me since the sum­mer,” said Hop­per. “They’ve been here for me all along.

“There are a lot of good peo­ple here and I feel I owe a lot to them, so hope­fully I can re­pay their trust through my per­for­mances and my goals.

“I learned a lot in the last six to ten months, which will hope­fully stand me in good stead for the fu­ture.

“It was a mas­sive learn­ing curve and I ad­mit big mis­takes were made, but you have to face the mu­sic, take it on the chin and keep your head down and make sure the next head­lines are about how well you’ve done on the pitch.”

De­spite his sur­round­ings be­ing in stark con­trast to what he once knew, Hop­per be­lieves he has been pre­pared for the rough and tum­ble of the Foot­ball League by the Foxes’ academy.

He re­mains re­spect­ful of his new home at Glan­ford Park.

“The academy at Le­ices­ter pre­pares you for League foot­ball as they don’t cud­dle you or wrap you in bub­ble wrap. You’re in it to win games from a young age,” he said.

“I like it here. It’s en­joy­able com­ing into train­ing ev­ery day, and be­ing a Lin­colnshire lad helps, too. I’m happy to be here right now.

“I’ll never get car­ried away with my­self; if you do that and start to think you’re bet­ter than you ac­tu­ally are, you’ll get found out.

“You can only play against who’s in front of you and you have to earn the right to progress in this game, to do your talk­ing on the pitch.

“If you don’t, then it’s a slip­pery slope out of the game and a lot of play­ers have found that out.”

On the pitch, Hop­per be­lieves

he needs to be more clin­i­cal in front of goal dur­ing the fi­nal few months of the sea­son af­ter scor­ing only four goals in 26 games.

But he be­lieves he couldn’t have a bet­ter strike part­ner than 18-goal Paddy Madden.

“I don’t think I’ve got enough goals as I should have so far, but I’ll work on that,” he said. “I’m fo­cus­ing on get­ting my per­for­mances to the level I want them to be

at.

“We’ve got a great group of strik­ers here, who all work re­ally hard on and off the pitch, but I have a great re­la­tion­ship with Paddy. He’s a ter­rific player to look to if I want to im­prove my own goalscor­ing. “Hope­fully, we can make it ex­cit­ing for the fans over the last few games. They want to see us at­tack­ing, scor­ing lots of goals and play­ing at­trac­tive foot­ball.

“They’re re­ally buy­ing into that and sup­port­ing us.”

Off the pitch, things are look­ing up for the Iron as North Lin­colnshire Coun­cil have signed off full plan­ning per­mis­sion for their pro­posed new £25m, 12,000 all-seater sta­dium. Work could start as early as May.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

EXIT: Hop­per, James Pear­son, in­set top, and Adam Smith, in­set bot­tom, were re­leased by Le­ices­ter POACHER: But Lin­colnshire lad Tom Hop­per wants to re­ward the fans with more goals

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