Six years ago Charlie Austin was a part-time bricklayer and playing for Poole Town but QPR boss Harry Redknapp believes the now-Premier League striker can cap his incredible rise by cementing his place in the England squad.
Austin helped Poole win the 2009 Wessex Premier Division – the ninth tier of English football – with 46 goals in all competitions while also holding down a day-job on a Bournemouth building site.
Transfers to Swindon and Burnley followed before Austin’s sharp-shooting persuaded QPR to make their move in August 2013. He already has five goals in the top flight this season.
The 25-year-old was not included in Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad on Thursday but if Austin can maintain his current form, Redknapp believes an international call-up will not be far away.
“Charlie’s improving and if he keeps scoring goals there’s no reason why he can’t play for England in the future,” Redknapp said.
“He’s a great lad, he’s got a good attitude, he comes in every day wanting to work and with a smile on his face and wanting to be a footballer.
“He’s had it hard, he used to get up early in the morning to do bricklaying in the middle of winter and I think he realises how fortunate he is.
“He loves it and he deserves it – if he keeps scoring goals and keeps improving his game there’s no reason why he couldn’t make the breakthrough (to the England squad).”
Redknapp said Hodgson is yet to enquire about Austin’s services but his instinctive flick-finish against Chelsea last weekend will likely not have gone unnoticed by the England boss.
Hodgson may also be attracted to the striker’s drive and enthusiasm – traits that have not always been apparent in Rangers’ displays this season.
“It’s great to see lads who appreciate what they’re getting,” Redknapp said.
“They’re coming out and playing football for a couple of hours every day and getting well paid.
“He probably remembers getting up at half five in the morning laying bricks through the winter on a building site – this is fantastic for him.
“Maybe we should send a few more out on building sites on work experience – it wouldn’t do them any harm.
“I sent kids out on loan at West Ham. Frank Lampard was sent out to Swansea in the old fourth division where they had to wash their own kit after training.
“It toughened them up and made them realise how lucky they were.”
Austin’s remarkable rise from the lower leagues is particularly pertinent given Rangers host big-spending Manchester City on Saturday.
In 2009, while Austin was playing the likes of Alresford Town and Bemerton Heath Harlequins, his opposite number Sergio Aguero was already scoring goals in the Champions League for Atletico Madrid.
Aguero, who joined City for £38million in July 2011, has scored six times in his last four games and Redknapp believes Rangers must find a way to stop the Argentine to have any success on on Saturday.
“Aguero is worth £38m in my opinion – he looks cheap at that money, he’s a fantastic player,” Redknapp said.
“I certainly don’t underestimate City in any way shape or form.
“Aguero is just an amazing player, Yaya Toure is world class – they are full of top quality players.
“We’ll have to be at our best but if we are then we have a good chance.”
QPR’s Joey Barton and Nedum Onuoha could both return to face their former club.
Barton and Onuoha are available again to Harry Redknapp as is midfielder Jordon Mutch. All three missed last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea with hamstring problems.
Rio Ferdinand is serving a three-match ban for comments made on Twitter while Alejandro Faurlin is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.