Waiting for a national call

While many players enjoy wealth and prestige at an early age, insulating them from real world concerns, Charlie Austin’s story is rather different. He has taken the long route to the top, writes Sean Cole.

From bricklayer to Premier League footballer, the last five years have seen a remarkable upturn in fortunes for Charlie Austin.

While many players enjoy wealth and prestige at an early age, insulating them from real world concerns, Austin’s story is rather different. He has taken the long route to the top.

After failing to make the grade with Reading he dropped down the divisions to kick-start his career, playing for Kintbury Rangers and hometown side Hungerford while working on building sites for his father’s firm.

When Austin’s family moved to Bournemouth, things really took off for him at nearby Poole Town. He scored 46 goals in 46 games in his first season, spending the summer of 2009 on trial at then League Two Bournemouth.

Placed under a transfer embargo after entering administration, Bournemouth were unable to sign Austin, who returned to Poole and carried on his spectacular goal-scoring form. He found the net 18 times in 11 games, catching the eye of Swindon’s chief scout.

A physical presence up front and a natural finisher, he was signed for GBP50,000, leaping six rungs up the league ladder in the process. Austin was unfazed, scoring the winner on his full debut away to Carlisle and forming an impressive partnership with the barrel-chested Billy Paynter.

Powered by the duo’s goals, Swindon reached the play-offs but fell at the final hurdle, losing 1-0 to Millwall. Regardless, the young striker ended his first year in the professional game with 19 league goals to his name.

Although Austin had been rewarded with a new contract just months after joining, he was soon angling for a move to a bigger team — something he now regrets — having scored a further 17 times in the first-half of the 2010/11 season.

He eventually got his wish, linking up with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe at Turf Moor in the January transfer window. Austin adapted well and had a perfect one-in-two strike rate as Burnley spent two years treading water in mid-table.

While the Clarets’ prospects looked bleak, recently-relegated QPR sought someone who could fire them straight back to the Premier League and Austin was identified as their prime target, joining for a GBP4 million fee.

As it turned out, Burnley went up in second place as Danny Ings ably filled the void left by Austin, who was out for several months with a shoulder injury, derailing QPR’s promotion bid.

They had to content themselves with the play-offs, reaching Wembley through Austin’s late winner, before Bobby Zamora’s goal fired Rangers and Austin into the top flight.

It is another step up for Austin but if he takes to it as quickly as every other division so far, an international call-up could be next on the horizon. Not bad for a former bricklayer.

Austin is engaged to his long-time girlfriend Bianca Parker and they have a two-year-old daughter called Avabella.

FACTFILE NAME: Charlie Austin POSITION: Striker DOB: 05/07/1989 CLUB: QPR

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: A brilliant second-half hat-trick as Burnley beat Portsmouth 5-1 at Fratton Park.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Failing a medical at Hull, who then pulled out of a deal to sign him.

PA Sport