Charlie Austin: From bricklayer to goal machine
The tale of Charlie Austin is as rich as any Hollywood story. From the bricks and mortar of a building site, to the bright lights of the biggest league in the world. Now, off the back of his first Premier League hattrick, Charlie Austin is the talk of the town. With the busy festive period now upon us and with the Premier League the only remaining big league in action, the opportunity is there for Austin to truly showcase his talents. So where has Austin's electric form sprung from?
Charlie Austin's tale is your quintessential rags-to-riches tale. Austin originates from Hungerford in Berkshire - more notoriously fabled for its' massacre - and despite his relatively youthful age of 25, is one of football's great journeymen. Up until 2009, Austin plied his trade in non-league football for Kintbury Rangers and hometown of Hungerford Town. In 2008 Austin moved his family to Bournemouth and switched to the semi-pro Wessex League Premier Division side of Poole Town.
Moonlighting by day as a builder, Austin scored an average of a goal a game (46) for Poole. His exploits captured the attention of Bournemouth and spent a pre-season trial under Eddie Howe, but due to a transfer embargo could not complete the transfer. Instead Austin switched to Swindon Town and in two seasons at the County Ground allotted 31 goals in 54 games. Austin's reputation was growing.
The striker was linked heavily to Ipswich Town, but instead moved to rival Championship outfit Burnley and went on to break multiple records for the Tykes. Within the two year spell at Turf Moor scored 41 goals in 82 games; an impressive ratio of 2:1. The next season Austin made the step up to promotion chasing and cash-flushed Queens Park Rangers for fee in the region of £4 million. In his time at Loftus Road, Austin scored his 100th professional goal and his 20 goal tally for the 2013-14 campaign pushed Rangers into the playoffs (his 20th sending The Hoops to Wembley where they beat Derby to earn promotion to the Premier League).
That brings us to the present day. To begin with, Austin struggled to find his first top flight goal and many doubted his ability to make the step up from the Championship. It took until his third outing versus Sunderland at home to break his duck. It was almost a month later when Austin scored his second at St. Marys, but it wasnt until until his brace versus goal-shy Aston Villa that Charlie Austin really hit his straps. Including the Villa goals, Austin has now brought his total to 11 this term, just three behind Kun Aguero but more curiously has now found the net nine times in nine games, keeping up his general career average of a goal a game. The man is the picture of consistency.
Which is why going forward from this point should hold no fear for the 25 year old. It's true that the vast majority of his goals have come at Loftus Road, but Austin has scored at Stamford Bridge versus the Champions elect. He has the opportunity to take his goalscoring prowess to the Emirates on Boxing Day and expose an extremely inconsistent defensive unit that has only kept two clean sheets at home all season. For the type of elusive striker he is - whilst not exuding electric pace - the forward can trouble Arsenal with his penchant for being in the right places at the right time,in particular Per Mertesacker et al. His aerial abilty is also another asset of his growing portfolio.
But it's not just his goals he brings to the table. Austin's three assists for The Hoops up to this point belies his true contribution to the team. Tipified by the game versus his former club Burnley, where he scored, assisted and also got sent off purely for trying too hard. He is at the centre of everything his team does. Even the bad. But it merely serves to underline the point. QPR have still only won four of the last nine, but compared to their opening gambit of two in eight has improved their prospects. Rangers still hover dangerously above the dropzone with the season's halfway mark approaching, but Austin's goals have fired Harry Redknapps men to a safety gap of two points.
Charlie Austin's journey from non-league football and builder to Premier League hitman has been a turbulent one, having been charged with assault during his time with Burnley. But his roots keep him grounded and humble and that is clear to see. Austin's goals have lifted Queens Park Rangers out of the relegation zone - for now - but in such a fickle arena as Premier League football where form dips alarmingly in and out, that position is almost certain to change. However it is Austin who can build the foundations of a relegation escape and in doing, so can further his career to his own end.