FORMER York City youth-team winger Jamie Hopcutt has not given up hope on becoming English football’s next Jamie Vardy.

Hopcutt, 25, played a starring role as unfashionable Swedish minnows almost pulled off a seismic Europa League shock by winning 2-1 at Arsenal in the second leg of their last 32 clash last week.

The York-born attacker played an integral role on the night, operating as a lone central striker, but dropping deep to help frustrate the Gunners whenever they were in possession.

At half-time, the Scandinavians, managed by another former Minsterman Graham Potter, looked like their game-plan to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit had been implemented perfectly, with two strikes in as many minutes from Hosam Aiesh and Ken Sema reducing the aggregate deficit to a single goal.

It took a reply straight after the restart from the London giants’ Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac to ease the hosts’ nerves and secure their passage into the next round but, for Hopcutt, the Emirates experience was another step towards fulfilling his own footballing ambitions.

Having been released by the Minstermen in 2010 just a matter of months after being given his first professional deal, Hopcutt drifted into part-time football with the likes of Tadcaster Albion and Ossett Town.

He went on to join forces with Potter – his former under-13 coach at City – a year later and was a mainstay in the Ostersunds team that won three promotions, culminating in his goal that secured a place in the country’s top-flight for the first-ever time.

Since then, other career highlights have included a thumping 4-1 Swedish Cup final victory over favourites Norrkoping, who have been crowned national champions 13 times, which led to the European odyssey that saw Hopcutt net in another shock triumph over Turkish titans Galatasaray, followed by qualification through a group including Ahletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin.

While the Arsenal game represents the biggest thrill of Hopcutt’s fairytale story thus far, he is still targeting an even happier ending to his career.

He has already been a reported £1.5million target of Brighton, Aston Villa and Wolves last summer and, citing Vardy’s rise from Stocksbridge Steels striker to a Premier League-winning England international, who looks destined for this summer’s World Cup, Hopcutt said: “The performance against Arsenal has given me a lot of confidence and I want to be up there this season in terms of goals and assists, whilst helping the team win major trophies, which I think I can do.

“It’s been a huge step up (from Tadcaster and Ossett), but I’ve made it. If you look at Jamie Vardy, he’s a prime example of what can happen in football and he’s an inspiration for me.

“I want to do the same things he has done. That’s what I’m looking at.”

For now, though, Hopcutt is focussed on securing qualification for next season’s Europa League.

Having missed out on one of the qualifying places reserved for the teams finishing in the top three positions of the league, which was concluded in November, fifth-placed Ostersunds once again need to rely on Cup glory.

They have won their first two group contests in that competition and, if they avoid defeat at home to Premier League rivals Kalmar today, they will progress to the quarter-final stage.

Hopcutt has admitted, meanwhile, that being the only side this term, other than both Manchester clubs, to taste victory at the Emirates has provided a timely boost in the quest to defend their domestic trophy.

“If we can win the trophy again, we will be back in the competition and that’s our aim,” Hopcutt declared. “Beating Arsenal on their own patch has given us all huge confidence to beat any team in Sweden.

“Once you’ve played those types of games, you’re itching to be in the competition again, because they are the football nights you want to be involved in.”

On a memorable evening, fifty of Hopcutt’s friends and family made the journey from York to join a packed away end in the 60,000-capacity arena.

That contingent included proud dad and former York Rugby League winger Chris Hopcutt and, offering his final reflections on a magical 90 minutes, Jamie added: “We gave everything and I thought that we were going to do it.

“We always believed we could turn it around and felt like we had nothing to lose. There was no pressure on us and, during that first 25 minutes, you could see we believed and we could have been 3-0 up.

“The goal just after half-time was a kick in the teeth but, after that, we pushed on again and created chances. It wasn’t to be, but I was really happy with how we played and we could hold our heads up high in terms of the way we went out of the competition.

“It was a great experience and one that will always be a good memory. It’s probably one of the best stadiums in England and the pitch was perfect for us.

“It was a special evening and we won on the night, so we went home half-happy.”