A HEADLINE I’VE BEEN RELISHING!
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
“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.
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