Austin heaven! Former bricklayer leading Ronaldo, Messi and Falcao in Europe's goalscoring charts
13:35 GMT, 7 November 2012
EUROPE'S LEADING SCORERS
Charlie Austin (Burnley) 20
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 18
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 17
Tom Pope (Port Vale) 17
Picture the scene, you’re taking part at your local pub quiz and the following question gets asked: Who is the top scorer in Europe this season
Cristiano Ronaldo, right No, no, it’s Lionel Messi. Hang on, what about Radamel Falcao All wrong, it’s a Berkshire-born boy called Charlie Austin, who scored yet again for Burnley on Tuesday night to take his tally to 20 for the season.
So who is he
A strapping 6ft 2ins centre-forward, equally adept on the deck or in the air, and now looking a snip at the 1million Burnley shelled out for him in January 2011.
Austin heaven: Charlie Austin has scored a remarkable 20 goals already this season
Why the long road to prominence
The short answer is he was deemed too short as a boy. Like Steven Gerrard before him, he underwent a significant growth spurt in his late teens, after he was released from Reading’s academy as a 15-year-old in 2004.
What's so special about this season
Good question. His partnership with Jay Rodriguez was one of the obvious plus points of Burnley’s mid-table return last season, but he's reveled as the main man since the England Under 21 international’s 7million switch to Southampton.
Austin has shown great adaptability, looking equally at ease in a 4-4-2 formation or leading the line alone this campaign. Quite simply, he has the gift of getting into the right place at the right time.
IN HIS OWN WORDS….
'In my first season, I got 20, but only 19 were league goals, the other I scored one in the play-off semi-final against Charlton. That’s the only time I’ve done it before.
'It has been as good as it gets and hopefully it continues for me personally, and for the football club.
'It is nice to break records, and if they keep coming then great, but it is all about winning and getting the three points.'
'To score 20 goals in any season is brilliant. I am happy to have got there but I am a team player and my goals help the team. Against Leeds it did for a 1-0 win.
'I don’t have a target. I’ll just keep working hard in training and bring it out on the pitch.'
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: 'The thing that I like is his team mentality. He is staying nice and steady with himself. He keeps going in there.
'That’s what I love about real goalscorers: they don’t give it up, they always think they’re going to nick one, and in tight games they’re the sort of people that you need to win'
Who discovered him
Intriguingly, former Swindon Town chairman Andrew Fitton can take some credit for giving Austin his break in the Football League. Fitton was previously chairman of Hungerford Town, one of the 23-year-old’s former clubs, and recommended him to then Robins manager Danny Wilson in September 2009.
Had his record caused a stir amongst other clubs
Yes. In fact, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe knew he had plucked a rough diamond from the rubble of the town’s building sites in the summer of 2009.
As a semi-professional, Austin bumped up his 80 weekly pay packet by working as a bricklayer for his dad’s business, but Howe offered him the chance to go full-time only to be scuppered by a Football League-imposed transfer embargo, allowing Swindon to step in.
How many more can he score this season
Sean Dyche, the new manager at Turf Moor, refused to cap his potential following his latest strike – a powerful header – downing Leeds, and pointed to the 49 goals Clive Allen netted for Tottenham in 1986-87 as a target to aim for.
That is one more than Austin managed during 2008-09 for Poole Town in the Wessex League, seven tiers below his current level.
Can he go all the way to the top
Don’t rule it out. Austin is something of a throwback to the 1980s when Stuart Pearce, Ian Wright and Vinnie Jones – electrician, plasterer and hod-carrier respectively – emerged as part-timers and rose to the international stage.
Dyche, and Howe before him, waxed lyrical about his team ethic, suggesting he has the attitude to match his talent.