Charlie Austin’s move to Brisbane Roar sees him follow in the footsteps of the likes of Robbie Fowler, Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey as he closes out his playing days in the Australian A-League.
Austin, who will turn 33 next week, departed QPR at the end of last season after his contract expired and despite interest from other Championship clubs in his services, he will head to Queensland with his family ahead of the season which starts in November.
Now in its 18th season, Australia’s domestic football competition has struggled in recent years to grab the imagination of the sporting consciousness in a country where cricket, rugby league and Australian Rules Football are the dominant codes.
At the height of its popularity in the early to mid-2000s players such as Dwight Yorke, Fowler, Heskey arrived to great fanfare but largely failed to deliver.
Yorke helped Sydney FC win the inaugural competition in 2005 before jumping ship to join Sunderland a year later.
However, neither Fowler, who did enjoy some occasional outstanding goal-scoring moments for the now defunct North Queensland Fury or Heskey, who signed for Newcastle Jets in 2012, lived up to the fanfare that greeted their arrivals.
The signing of Italian great Del Piero by Sydney FC in 2012 generated huge publicity for the competition internationally and the former Juventus striker – even at 37 – was a class apart from anyone else in the league – but often was left frustrated by the lack of talent surrounding him and even had his own private dressing room built for him at the club’s training ground.
However, the signing of former England striker Daniel Sturridge for Perth Glory last season proved to be a disaster with the ex-Liverpool and Chelsea man making just six appearances and failing to score a single goal in an injury-ravaged stint before being released by the club.
But Roar coach Warren Moon said signing Austin is a huge coup for his club and the A-League and backed him to to achieve his target of 200 career goals with the former Rangers talisman currently on 176.
“Charlie has scored goals wherever he’s been,” said Moon.
“From my discussion with him, he comes to us with great ambition to try to hit the 200 mark for his career.
“That says to me that we have a player who is coming here to be successful for Brisbane Roar and who has the hunger to continue doing what he loves best and that’s scoring goals.”
Austin will take heart from the success of former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre, who has enjoyed enormous success in the league with 47 goals in 79 appearances for Sydney FC and believes he can help his new club return to the heights achieved under Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou who guided the club to back-to-back league titles in 2011-12.
“To play abroad is something I’ve always wanted to do and when the opportunity came up to join this club I was looking to explore it,” said Austin.
“I want to help the club get back into the top six and on a personal note score as many goals as possible.”