BURNLEY FC: Charlie Austin is Europe’s top goal scorer

JUST cast a glance at the top scorers in Europe.

Thursday, 8th November 2012, 11:17 am

You’d imagine top of the pile would be, as usual, Lionel Messi of Barcelona, rival Cristiano Ronaldo, of Real Madrid, or El Tigre, Atletico’s brilliant Columbian Radamel Falcao leading the way.

And you’d be wrong.

Top of the pile is Burnley’s own Charlie Austin, whose goal against Leeds on Tuesday night took him to 20 for the season - two more than Ronaldo, and three more than the mesmeric Messi and Port Vale’s Tom Pope.

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Austin’s 20 goals have come in just 17 games - failing to score in only three - and he is the quickest-ever Burnley player to reach that landmark from the start of a season, and only the second in history before the end of November, alongside Andy Lochhead in 1966-67.

His next target is to beat Jimmy Robson’s 26 goals by the turn of the year in 1960-61.

And he said, in typical laidback style: “To score 20 goals in any season is brilliant. I’m happy I got there but I’m a team player and my goals help the team, and that’s what it did for a 1-0 win.

“I just want to dedicate the goal to my dad, Fred, because he travelled up from Bournemouth this afternoon to watch.

“He can have that one.”

He added: “It’s nice to break the records but it’s all about winning for Burnley Football Club.

“If the records keep coming then great, but it’s all about winning and getting the three points for the club.

“I don’t have a target. I just keep working hard in training and bring it out onto the pitch.

“My first season as a professional I got 20 with Swindon, 19 league goals and one in the play-off semi finals against Charlton.

“I’ve had 17 here, so it’s only the second time.”

Austin ended last season in a rich vein of form, and three hat-tricks in 2012 have seen him hit 28 so far this calendar year, and he added: “This year’s been as good as it gets, so hopefully it continues for me personally and Burnley Football Club.”

New boss Sean Dyche believes the sky is the limit: “Why can’t he go on and get more. I was with Clive Allen at a golf day recently and he got 49 in one season.”

Austin himself got 48 in one season, four years ago with Poole Town, earning a move to Swindon, and after 37 goals in 65 appearances for the Robins, he now has 37 in 67 at Championship level.

Newcastle and Aston Villa are thought to be keeping a very close eye on his progress - though at least half the Premier League are monitoring his situation, with him only under contract at Burnley until the summer of 2014.

Austin doesn’t see why he can’t get to the Premier League with Burnley, however: “We’re not a team that should be down there fighting, we’re a team that should be up there in and around the play-offs. We have a great team spirit throughout. That move for our goal against Leeds was different class.”

Austin has continued to find the net under Dyche after the departure of Eddie Howe, who brought him to the club in January 2011 for a bargain £1.2m.

And he spoke of the new man’s influence on the squad already: “He’s set his guidelines out, what he wants, and obviously the lads have worked really well towards it.

“We just needed to shut up shop at the back. We are great going forward and he doesn’t want to change us going forward.

“The lads have been buying into everything he’s said, and the coaches – Tony (Loughlan), Ian (Woan) and the gaffer have been great in training.”