Former Arsenal and Swedish international goalkeeper, Rabi Shaaban has heaped praise upon club-mate and rising star Johannes Hopf. Hopf (24) was scouted heavily by Celtic as well as clubs from Germany and Greece after a string of impressive performances towards the end of last season and the glowing words of Shabaan are sure to spark a resurgence in interest.
Shaaban is better placed than most to judge the rise of the young Swede. The former Gunner joined Hammarby back in his native Sweden back in 2008 after stints in England and Norway. He was first choice for the 2009 season, but in 2010 was relegated to the role of back-up by the emergence of Hopf. He hung up his gloves at the conclusion of last season after the form of Hopf played a huge role in saving the Stockholm club from relegation to the third tier of Swedish football. Since then, Shabaan has assumed the role of assistant goalkeeping coach at Hammarby and he has been impressed by what he has seen from his former rival for the starting goalkeeping berth.
“Johannes has an incredible attitude and desire,” said Shabaan reinforcing attributes that were noted by the Celtic scouts. A bid was made with a view to signing him in the January transfer window, but it fell well short of the price the Swedish club want for one of their most prized assets. With Tim Krul now firmly established as first choice for Newcastle, it seems highly likely that Alan Pardew will let Fraser Forster go for the right price and will more than likely join the Bhoys on a permanent basis from next season. Neil Lennon is still looking to strengthen his goalkeeping options and Hopf would represent a reasonably priced option with the huge potential, a view backed up by Shabaan.
“Hopf can go very far. It’s up to him. It feels good to him, I’ve been training goalkeepers a lot in the preseason. He is attentive, listens, and thinks for himself. He will now need to apply it and it will be interesting to see if he can manage it, as I hope and believe,” explained Shabaan in an interview with http://www.fotbolldirekt.se.
One club repeatedly linked to Hopf are Hoffenheim. The German outfit have developed a reputation as a club with an ability to uncover young talent missed by others and Shabaan believes his former team-mate would have little problem succeeding in the Bundesliga or another major European league. “It will suit him and it’s only a matter of time before a big move comes along. He has to keep working and learning with each workout,” he added.