Charlie Austin - From rags to riches

After Charlie Austin’s incredible play-off winning season with QPR, it was questioned whether the ex non-league star was able to make the cut in the English Premier League. However, the 25-year-old centre-forward has shocked the football world by finding himself the league’s third top scorer going into the new year. With 13 league goals, only Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa have more. He has caught the attention of many, and as talk of an England cap is thrown about, so is speculation of his future at QPR.

Austin’s football root’s are now well known and often spoken about following his meteoritic rise through the leagues. Having started off at non league teams such as Kintbury Rangers and Poole Town, he was spotted by League 1 outfit Swindon town and became a first team regular at the County ground before signing for Championship side Burnley. It was here where Austin began to show his qualities, scoring 45 goals in 90 games for the Clarets.

He then joined the R’s in the summer of 2013 from fellow Championship side Burnley for a fee of around £4 Million, which in hindsight looks to be quite a deal for QPR, considering the price of Premier-League goal-scorers now and what he has achieved with the Hoops.

Prolific: Charlie Austin has 13 goals to his name this season, only Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero have more.

In his debut season he became a firm fans favourite at Loftus Road scoring 20 goals, including a brace in the play-off semi final to propel Rangers to the final at Wembley. After winning the final and henceforth gaining promotion to the top flight, many were unsure on Austin’s premier league ability with Rangers. However, he looks to have proved them critics wrong. Although only having netted twice by the end of October, Austin then started scoring freely – grabbing 10 goals in 12 games for the West London outfit by January of the new year.

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As Austin impressed, talk of an England call up quite understandably brewed within the media. His goal-scoring form was single-handedly keeping his team out of the relegation zone, and it was this that had the public raving. He had soon become the league’s third top scorer, and the top English scorer in the Premier League. A hat trick against West Brom ensured an emphatic comeback win for Rangers, with Austin scoring all three goals.

The big question hanging above his head though, is if he can continue throughout the season. With the season only having just hit the halfway mark, QPR would most likely be dead and buried in the relegation zone if it weren’t for Austin. He has contributed to 15 of QPR’s 23 goals, assisting two and scoring thirteen.

However, it seems to be only since Harry Redknapp has partnered Bobby Zamora next to him that he has began to perform. Zamora wasn’t a serious starting option for the R’s at the beginning of the season, despite being the clubs play-off hero.

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Before Zamora’s introduction, Austin had only two goals for the West London team. This is because of Zamora’s physical presence that takes the pressure off Austin. When the ball is knocked into the box, Zamora will most likely use his strength to knock the ball down and he will hold off defenders and create space and opportunities. The plaudits that Austin is getting are by no means not deserved, but Zamora deserves credit too.

Austin is a new breed of a poacher. Whereas the old fashioned, traditional ‘poacher’ just has that nick of being in the right place at the right time, Austin is strong, physical and even possesses that bit of pace. You won’t see Austin picking up the ball on the halfway line, and nutmegging four defenders before chipping the goalkeeper. In fact only one of his thirteen league goals was struck out the area, and just three of his 33 goals for QPR have been outside the area.

His presence inside the penalty box is key for Rangers, if there is a loose ball bouncing around in the area, you would bet your life that Austin will latch onto it. It is this that is the difference between the teams in the relegation scrap. None of them have a scorer as prolific as Austin. For a player playing in a relegation scrap within a team not performing to a high level, he’s done superbly to get so many goals.

Charlie Austin in many ways is the only hope for QPR. If they can keep him fit and away from any injuries, then it gives R’s fans that little bit of belief that they can beat the drop come the end of the season. Then that leaves the only question mark over Austin: his future.

He has pledged not to leave this transfer window and to stick it out until the end of the season. He was also offered a new contract before Christmas, which he declined and decided to wait until their destiny in the top flight is decided. However, he is loved at Loftus Road, and seems to be enjoying himself – what’s not to say he won’t continue playing his football in blue and white?

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