IT’S a long way from Kintbury Rangers to the England squad, but that’s the step completed by Charlie Austin after he was named in Roy Hodgson’s latest group.
The Hungerford born 25-year old QPR striker is in the England ranks for forthcoming games in Ireland and Slovenia as one of three former non-league players in the squad.
Austin, another graduate of the Newbury Primary Schools squad that included Theo Walcott, first made his senior mark as a 17-year old with Kintbury, where he netted 20 goals in 27 games before moving to home-town club Hungerford Town, where he helped Hungerford into the quarter-finals of the FA Vase.
His family then moved to the south coast and Austin, then a bricklayer, turned out for then Wessex League Poole Town where he became a goal-scoring sensation, netting 48 goals in 42 games before earning a crack at a league career when joining Swindon Town.
It has been onwards and upwards since, to Burnley and thence to Premier Division QPR, where his 17 goals this season could not save the London club from relegation to the Championship, although Austin’s eye for goal has made him one of the major transfer targets for the close season with a fee of £10 million mooted.
England boss Hodgson admitted that Austin had been in his thoughts for some time: “We've always had our eye on Charlie,” he said, “but up to this point we haven't had the space in the squad. We'll give him every chance.”
Pictured is a 10-year old Charlie Austin (back, left) making his Wembley debut in an England shirt when a mascot for Hungerford Town
Veterans when they won the FA Umbro Cup at the old stadium in 2000.