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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: FORMER REAL MADRID KID’S CELTIC, GERS HINT, HOOPER ONE-YEAR DEAL, HIBS STAR’S FEARS, ACCIES TARGET

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FORMER Real Madrid kid Jack Harper has hinted he could be open for a move to Celtic or Rangers.

The former Scotland Youth star is now on loan at Spanish second-tier outfit Alcorcon from Getafe, but continues to keep tabs on what is happening on the Scottish soccer scene.

Harper was born in Malaga after his family, from Barrhead, emigrated.

The 23-year-old forward, speaking to the Spanish media, said: “People in Spain don’t know how important both teams in Glasgow are.

“Both Celtic and Rangers are mythical clubs – 60,000 fans go to the games.

“My parents are Rangers fans, I am a little more neutral. I like to watch the derbies for the passion and intensity, but I do not choose a side.

“I follow the league and more now Rangers have again become a strong team.

“They had problems, went down to the fourth tier and Celtic won eight leagues in a row. Now with Steven Gerrard, everything is going better.

STRIKING TALENT…Jack Harper celebrates a goal for Malaga.

“The league is becoming more powerful. I have 12 years left in my career and anything can happen.

“In general the Scottish Premiership is beautiful, it has mythical teams.”

Harper added: “I see myself as 50-50 Spanish-Scottish. When I call my parents I feel Scottish, but then all my friends are Spanish. I know how to change the accent.

“I have British nationality, so out of respect for my family I chose to play with the Scottish national team.

“My blood and my roots are Scottish and I would like to go to a World Cup with the national team.”

A massive future for Harper was predicted when he was taken on as a teenager by Spanish giants Real Madrid.

However, he failed to make the breaktrhough into the senior squad and joined Brighton in July 2015.

But he was stricken by injury and was out for six months shortly after his arrival.

He returned to Spain with Malaga two years later before joining Getafe in July this year. He agreed a temporary season-long switch to Alcorcon a month later.

GARY HOOPER, the former Celtic striker, has agreed a one-year deal with Wellington Phoenix.

The 31-year-old forward has been out of football since being released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the season.

Hooper, who scored 63 goals in 95 league games for the Parkhead side following his £2.4million move from Scunthorpe in 2010, quit in a £5.5million switch to Norwich City three years later.

Now the prolific hitman, who had been linked with a return to the Hoops, is looking forward to the rigours of Hyundai A-League.

Hooper, speaking to the club website, said: “‘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 is poised to make his debut against ing home to face Perth Glory a week on Sunday.

Hooper will wear squad number 88, the same as he wore in his three years at Celtic..

General Manager David Dome added: “I’m sure that football fans across New Zealand and Australia will be thrilled to see a player like Gary in action for Wellington.”

OFIR MARCIANO fears for his future at Hibs after falling out of favour with boss Paul Heckingbottom.

The Israeli international keeper has been on the substitutes’ bench for the last four games with Chris Maxwell, on loan from Preston, taking the No.1 spot.

Marciano, 30, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I have a contract for another year after this season. but it’s impossible to know if I’ll leave.

“I’m training hard and working hard. I believe in myself, but if the team chooses to get rid of me, then fine.

“I’m a professional and I’ll be a professional until the end.”

Marciano helped his nation to a 3-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Latvia recently.

BRIAN RICE, the Hamilton Accies boss, is looking forward to the visit of his old club Hibs at the weekend.

He played for the Easter Road side for five years and was also No.2 to John Hughes when he hung up his boots.

Rice, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Saturday, whoever wins, will be a massive three points. The aim is always to have at least one team below you.

“Before we start this one, Hibs are below us and my job is to keep Hibs below us.”

The Accies gaffer has had a fortnight to reflect on his side’s 5-0 hammering from Rangers at Ibrox.

He added: “I don’t normally like the international break, but I felt it was beneficial this time.

“The lads had a couple of days off, have come back refreshed and full of energy and enthusiasm and have trained really well”

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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