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Former York City winger Jamie Hopcutt loving his Swedish sojourn
FORMER York City winger Jamie Hopcutt will be upsetting the locals when he cheers on England from his adopted home of Sweden tonight.
Hopcutt, who turns 20 this month, is currently starring in the Scandinavian country’s third tier after making the switch from Tadcaster Albion to Ostersunds FK this year.
Having been released by Gary Mills just three months into his first professional contract at Bootham Crescent two seasons ago, Hopcutt is now hoping to relaunch his career by helping his unbeaten new club clinch promotion.
Ostersunds, managed by another one-time Minsterman Graham Potter, have won their last four matches having drawn their first quartet of league fixtures in 2012 and Hopcutt, who has been involved in all the games, is loving every minute of his Swedish sojourn.
Prior to the group ‘D’ clash between his mother country and the nation he now calls home, Hopcutt said: “It’s going really well over here.
“We have a really good team and Sweden is a really nice country. It’s so chilled out, there’s no hassle and everyone’s so friendly so it’s a nice way of living.”
York-born Hopcutt also feels he is now plying his trade at the same level as the club he rose through the ranks with as a schoolboy, saying: “The equivalent standard to the third division in Sweden is probably Conference or League Two.
“Those two divisions are pretty similar in England but I would probably say the football over here is more technical and less physical. We also get crowds between 1,000 and 2,000 although more tend to come out if it’s a nice day.
“It’s also the most professional set-up I have been involved in. After I left York, I went non-League with Ossett Town and Tadcaster and, while I was training a lot at the gym and running, it’s so hard to do it all on your own and you wonder whether it’s worth it.
“But everything is very organised and thorough here and they treat the players really well. I’ve either started or come on from the bench in nearly all of the games and scored my first goal a couple of matches ago in a 4-0 win over Syrianska IF Kerburan.
“It was probably the best I have ever scored as well. It went right in the top corner. I got a little bit of stick with some of the lads saying I was lucky but I went for it.”
Hopcutt’s opportunity to try his luck overseas came during a trial at Warwick University, held by the League Football Education.
He caught the eye of his former City under-14 coach Potter there and an invitation to spend pre-season with Ostersunds soon followed, as did the subsequent offer of a one-year deal.
On the former Stoke, West Brom and City full-back’s qualities as a manager, Hopcutt said: “He’s been a coach for quite a while and he wants you to get the ball down and pass it so training is really good.”
With the likes of former Luton striker Matthew Barnes-Homer, ex-Scarborough forward Brian Wake and one-time Kidderminster defender Steve Burton also having been brought to Ostersunds by Potter, Hopcutt has avoided the feeling of alienation that many Brits suffer when travelling overseas to play their football.
“There are ten foreign players at the club and we have three Ghanaian lads who speak good English as well,” Hopcutt revealed. “Brian Wake’s my best mate out here.
“I get on really well with him, which helps you settle in, but I’m still trying to pick up a few Swedish words and it would be good to try and learn the language.”
Hopcutt, who also went on trial with League One outfit Brentford earlier last season, is now hoping he can rise through the divisions with Ostersunds before having a second crack at making the breakthrough on these shores.
Another former Minsterman Byron Webster, now with Northampton, followed a familiar path when he left Bootham Crescent before enjoying a spell in the Czech Republic and returning to secure a two-year deal in the Championship with Doncaster.
And Hopcutt has not given up on representing his home-town team either, saying: “I’d like to see how far I can get in Sweden and we have a great chance of getting promoted this season.
“I’d like to have up to three years out here and get some professional games under my belt and then I’d love to come back to York and play for the club again. I don’t think I could have done any more at York but I didn’t get a chance when the new manager came in.
“I thought I was doing well in training and I remember Michael Ingham commenting on how well he thought I was doing so for the manager to tell me I was being released was a big blow. But it would be great to come back, especially with the club being back in the Football League now.
“There’s more football played at League Two level and that suits my style of play.”