English Premiership

Austin, Vardy aim to cap fairytale rise

2015-06-05 10:14
Charlie Austin reacts after missing a penalty (Getty Images)

London - Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy hope to complete their fairytale journeys from non-league obscurity to the global stage by making their England debuts over the next week.

Austin and Vardy were surprise inclusions in Roy Hodgson's squad for Sunday's friendly against the Republic of Ireland and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia a week later.

Their call-ups were a reward for impressive debut Premier League seasons, with former bricklayer Austin, just six years removed from playing for semi-professional Wessex League club Poole Town, netting 18 goals for QPR in their unsuccessful battle to avoid relegation.

Vardy, who scored in a win against Manchester United this season and has caught the eye with his unselfish running up front, also came from non-league football, rising from Stocksbridge Park Steels to Leicester via unglamourous stops at Halifax and Fleetwood.

"I didn't imagine this at all, but to be honest when I was at Fleetwood I wouldn't imagine I would sign for Leicester either," Vardy told reporters at England's training headquarters on Thursday.

"Every day I have had to pinch myself about where I've come from to where I am now.

"This is just the next step and it is even bigger, so I am constantly pinching myself.

"It is a massive opportunity. I never thought it would happen.

"I have just got to take it in my stride, show what I can do and if there is anything I need to learn then I will be learning it off the other players."

Austin's meteoric rise has come as a surprise to many, but not to one group of fans at his former club Poole, who put a bet on the striker scoring for his country when he was still an unheralded forward plying his trade in the backwaters of English football.

The syndicate stand to scoop 7,905 ($12,162) from the bet placed in 2010, with the majority of the winnings pledged to Poole FC.

"My dreams are coming true," Austin said. "Hard work is always the goal for people.

"People from the lower leagues are still dreaming they can make the step up to play professionally and then play for the national team.

"To be called up to the squad, I believe that people below us are looking at me and Jamie and see that it can be done."

The pair's arrival in Hodgson's squad at the same time has given them plenty to talk about and they have already struck up a rapport.

"We bounce off each other and speak," Austin said. "I don't know the full story from Jamie's background.

"I know we both came from non-league, I played in the south and Jamie played in the north. I think we played in similar kind of leagues.

"Me and Jamie coming here gives people the opportunity if they work as hard as they can and achieve their dreams."


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