OSTERSUNDS striker and former York City youth-team graduate Jamie Hopcutt is confident that the Swedish minnows can cause a major Europa League shock by knocking out last-32 opponents Arsenal.

Hopcutt, 25, admitted landing the Gunners represented a “dream draw” this week for the York-born attacker, who was released at Bootham Crescent without making a senior appearance.

His first-team football opportunities in this country were limited to short stints at Whitby, Tadcaster Albion and Ossett Town, but he has played a major role in Ostersunds’ fairytale rise from fourth-division rookies to European giant-killers under another ex-City professional Graham Potter.

Ostersunds have already played a dozen games in the European tournament this season, starting back in July as they had to negotiate three two-legged qualifying rounds just to make making the group stages.

Former European Cup semi-finalists Galatasaray and two-time Greek champions PAOK were both surprised by Hopcutt and his team-mates, before they went on to finish second in their group behind eight-time Spanish champions Athletic Bilbao and ahead of former UEFA Cup semi-finalists Hertha Berlin.

Hopcutt has featured in nine of the matches and scored a spectacular goal during the 3-1 aggregate triumph over Galatasaray – a result which he admits now means the Scandinavians feel prepared to tackle any challenge in the competition, ahead of the two-legged tussle against the former Champions League finalists on February 15 and 22.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has fielded a strong side in the tournament this season, with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott featuring regularly and Hopcutt, who took time out of his short close-season break in the US to speak to The Press, confessed: “It’s a dream draw and the one I was hoping for.

“I’ve always wanted to come back to England and play against somebody there so, to do that against one of the biggest and most historical clubs in the Europa League’s last 32, will be amazing and unreal. They have amazing players in their squad so, to play against them will be special, but there’s nothing to fear.

“We’ve exceeded all expectations already of course, as it’s an amazing achievement to get this far in the competition. Our targets at the start of it all were just to compete and enjoy the moment but, as soon as we beat Galatasaray, the confidence and belief was there and it’s just got greater and greater to the point that we don’t fear anyone now.

“We will have massive respect for Arsenal, of course, but we’re confident we can beat anyone. We’ve got the whole of Sweden behind us now and we will give it 100 per cent and see what happens.”

Hopcutt, who scored the equaliser that earned Ostersunds promotion to the Swedish Premier League for the first time in their short 21-year history, rates his first-leg, stoppage-time effort against Galatasaray as his biggest career highlight.

But he also reasoned that getting on the scoresheet at the Emirates would eclipse that achievement, explaining: “The Galatasaray goal was a special moment – the best of my career - but scoring at the Emirates? Now, that would be special.”

Having managed to complete the job of knocking out the 20-time Turkish champions in an arena renowned for its unmatched hostility in world football where the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Leeds have all come a cropper following the traditional Welcome to Hell reception, Ostersunds are unlikely to be daunted by the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium, who tend to be more hospitable hosts.

On the Istanbul experience, Hopcutt revealed: “It’s the most intimidating place in football for sure and it was an unreal atmosphere. Their fans are amazing and we were booed for the first 45 minutes but, by the end of the match, we were clapped off, which just goes to show how well we did.”

Despite his Scandinavian heroics, Hopcutt is desperate, meanwhile, to grab this chance of showcasing his talents to a country that can be somewhat slow to recognise achievements of their own outside of these shores.

With aspirations of returning to ply his trade in England one day, he added: “I believe in myself and know what I can do but, being from the UK, it will be nice to show that there are talented English players outside of the country.”

The same applies for former under-14 Minstermen coach Potter, with a growing incredulity that the only English manager still left in European competition has not been the subject of strong overtures from across the North Sea.

Having worked under him for the last five years, Hopcutt is confident that his manager’s skills would be easily translatable to the cut-throat industry over here, given a patient owner.

“He’s getting a lot of coverage right now and rightly so,” Hopcutt declared. “I think teams will want him, but he seems happy here, because he can play his way and has been given a lot of time to do that.

“In England, that would never happen, because a run of bad results and you’re gone but, if he got the time he needs, he would succeed, because his philosophy is very good.”

Hopcutt is enjoying every minute of Ostersunds’ European odyssey, which has seen the side play in front of more than 30,000 people in Bilbao and Galatasaray, as well as 8,000 near-capacity crowds at their jam-packed Jamtkraft Arena.

On the journey so far, he added: “Coming back from being 3-1 down against PAOK at our place was huge and the home games have been magic. The stadium has been full and our amazing fans show their support all the time.

“They can’t really believe what’s happening, but they are loving every minute of it and the town is buzzing. The Bilbao and Berlin away matches were special too in terms of playing at such amazing arenas in a big competition.”

Hopcutt was still feeling his way back from a broken leg injury during the last Swedish season, which ended in November.

He is hoping to feature more now during the next domestic campaign, which will be preceded by the biggest contests in the club’s history against the North London giants.

On his and the team’s 2017 campaign, Hopcutt said: “We wanted to finish in the top three but, considering how far we have gone in the Europa League with only a small squad, we were happy with fifth. The season was up and down for me. I’ve had to sit out some games, as I missed a full year of football but, now, I will have all the experience and be ready for a big campaign with a pre-season under my belt.”