Sheffield Wednesday: Hooper refuses to take his eyes off the main prize

Gary Hooper

Gary Hooper

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After qualifying for the Championship Play-Off Final, Wednesday’s players and staff embraced and deservedly soaked up the adulation of the 2,000 plus fans who made the long trek to Brighton.

The “crazy” celebrations on the south coast will live long in the memory for Owls striker Gary Hooper, who is now preparing for a fourth Wembley trip.

But despite helping Wednesday beat the Seagulls over two legs, the former Celtic forward is refusing to take his eyes off the prize.

“I didn’t get too carried away because I know we have one more game,” he said. “We are not promoted yet.”

He admits the Owls rode their luck on Monday night.

“The first half wasn’t nice,” he conceded. “I thought we were lucky.

“Brighton were on top all the time and had a few chances to go ahead.

“They finally did take their chance and it was all Brighton until we scored our goal and that killed the game.We dealt with them well in the second half.”

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Hooper has now quickly switched his attentions to securing back-to-back Wembley wins, having played a part in Norwich City’s success 12 months ago. The Canaries beat Middlesbrough at the home of football to seal a Premier League return.

He said: “I’ve experienced going up through the leagues and played in a few cups so I know what it’s all about going to Wembley and doing well.

“It (the Final) is the best day you can have so long as you win.

“Form doesn’t really go into a Final at Wembley and anything can happen. Hopefully it happens to us.”

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The 28-year-old feels Wednesday’s march to the national stadium has fully justified his decision to leave Carrow Road last January.

Hooper, who has netted 13 goals in 33 Owls outings, said: “It was a big call for me getting out of Norwich and coming down to the Championship.

“I needed to get out of Norwich because I wasn’t playing. I need to play and this has helped me score more goals and hopefully get promotion.”

Hooper has praised boss Carlos Carvalhal for reigniting their fortunes.

“He gets everyone together,” acknowledged Hooper. “The fans come in their numbers home and away. The gaffer talks about the fans every week in the press and they get behind us.

“It is what we need and we need them at Wembley.”

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