While new Liverpool recruit Danny Ings has received plenty of hype and praise during this off-season, there is another England striker that has been even more impressive. Queens Park Rangers forward Charlie Austin scored 18 Premier League goals during the 2014/15 campaign, fourth most in the league and seven more than Ings, however, Austin’s road to prolific Premier League goalscorer certainly took an unusual path.
Austin’s story as a soccer player is absolutely fascinating. Following being released by Reading at the age of 15, the Hungerford, England native featured for local clubs, Kintbury Rangers and Hungerford Town. After two seasons with the aforementioned teams, in which Austin hit the back of the 25 times, the then 19-year-old switched to Wessex League side Poole Town.
During his time at Poole Town, Austin also worked as a bricklayer. While working the blue collar job, the semi-professional also netted 46 goals in 46 total matches in Poole. Austin followed up the impressive season in Poole with netting 18 goals in his first 11 games with the club in the 2009/10 campaign.
The fast start by Austin ultimately led to a transfer to League One club Swindon Town. Austin completed two seasons with Swindon, scoring 37 goals in 65 total matches at the club. In January of 2011, Championship side Burnley completed the transfer of Austin, and the forward was the top goalscorer in his first full season with the team.
Two years later, in July of 2013, Premier League club Hull City agreed a transfer fee with Burnley, however, it was revealed that Austin failed his medical at the KC Stadium and Austin ultimately signed with QPR in the summer of 2013.
Following Austin’s 20-goal season with the R’s during the 2013/14 campaign, the west London club was promoted to the Premier League for the next season. The rise from the Hellenic League to the Premier League in just eight years for Austin is utterly remarkable.
Five years ago, while playing for Swindon Town, Austin spoke on his rise through the England league ranks. “People ask me: ‘Can you explain how you have done it?’ But I can’t explain it,” the then 20-year-old said. “I can explain what I’m feeling but I can’t explain what has happened. To come from where I have been, to now talk of England, what can you say? It’s unbelievable.”
“People ask me for autographs now and I think to myself: ‘Are you sure?’ And I’ve gone from Poole Town where I took my own kit and boots, still clogged in mud from the game before, to having someone cleaning my boots for me and all my kit being laid out. It’s unbelievable.”
Although QPR was relegated this past season, Austin’s spectacular year in London will surely attract multiple Premier League clubs from top to bottom. Austin isn’t a rising teenage prodigy, nor a consistent England international. In fact, Austin has yet to feature for any level of England national team (although he was finally called up to the senior team last month), however, the 25-year-old’s knack for scoring goals cannot be denied.
Austin’s instincts in front of goal are outstanding (as seen here). While he may not be the type of talent to head straight into a starting XI of top teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea, the Manchester clubs, or Liverpool (I would argue that neither is Ings), Austin would certainly help a club like Newcastle United, Sunderland or Aston Villa (especially if they sell Christian Benteke).
With the summer transfer period still in the early stages, there is plenty of time to decide Austin’s future. It is thought that the west London club want around £15 million for the back-to-back club player of the year.
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