Charlie Austin’s QPR career ended last week after his contract was not renewed by the club. He leaves W12 a modern-day great with an impressive 61 goals in 148 appearances across two spells. Here are 10 of his most memorable moments.
QPR 2 Wigan 1 – May 2014, Championship play-off semi-final second leg
After the two sides drew 0-0 in the first leg at the DW Stadium, Rangers, who were favourites to progress to the final, found themselves 1-0 down after just nine minutes when James Perch turned home James McLean’s low cross. On an epic night at Loftus Road, Harry Redknapp’s team were hugely fortunate not to concede a second goal when McLean found himself one on one with Rob Green after skipping past Clint Hill, but shot straight at the keeper then fired the rebound onto the post and wide. But 15 minutes from time, Gary Caldwell brought down Junior Hoilett in the box and Austin held his nerve to slot home in front of a delirious Loft. The striker then sent the ground into ecstasy four minutes into extra time when he ghosted in front of Leon Barnett to fire home Bobby Zamora’s cushioned pass and take Rangers to Wembley for the first time since 1986.
QPR 2 Watford 1 – April 2014, Championship
Austin, sidelined for two months with a dislocated shoulder, returned to the starting line-up in memorable fashion with a last-minute winner to book QPR’s place in the play-off spots and snuff out Watford’s slim hopes of a top-six finish. Mathias Ranegie put the Hornets deservedly in front early in the second half at Loftus Road before Joey Barton settled the nerves of the crowd with a fine 76th-minute free-kick. With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Nedum Onuoha broke up a Watford attack, swept the ball forward towards Austin, who was teed up from just outside the box by Bobby Zamora and bent home the winner in superb fashion.
QPR 3 West Brom 2 – December 2014, Premier League
West Brom took an early lead when Joleon Lescott headed home from a corner and the Baggies extended their advantage after only 19 minutes when Silvestre Varela waltzed past the Rangers defence and beat Rob Green. Austin clawed a goal back almost immediately from the penalty spot after Leroy Fer was fouled in the box. He then nodded in an equaliser shortly after half-time and four minutes from time became the first QPR player to score a top-flight hat-trick since Bradley Allen in 1993 when he headed in Joey Barton’s corner amid raucous scenes in the stands.
QPR 3 Leicester 2 – November 2014, Premier League
QPR were bottom of the table when Leicester, who were also promoted in the previous season, visited W12 – and it proved to be a pulsating affair. Argentine veteran Esteban Cambiasso fired the Foxes in front after four minutes only for Wes Morgan to turn Steven Caulker’s cross into his own net and level the scores. Fer then hooked home from close range before half-time to put Rangers in front. A wonderful strike from Jeffrey Schlupp made it 2-2 before Austin followed up Onuoha’s blocked effort from a corner to hand Rangers the win late on.
QPR 1 Sunderland 0 – August 2014, Premier League
Rangers began life back in the big time with three straight defeats and had yet to score a goal when Sunderland came to town. QPR had to wait until mid-December for their first league win during their ill-fated 2012-13 campaign but secured their opening three points of the campaign in their fourth game when Austin turned home from a corner for his maiden Premier League goal. It was the first of 18 he bagged in a season that ultimately ended in the disappointment of relegation – but was the most by a QPR striker at the highest level since Les Ferdinand’s 24 in 1994/95.
Luton 0 QPR 2 – Jan 2021, Championship
With Rangers struggling at the wrong end of the table and without a win in nine games, QPR co-chairman Tony Fernandes hatched a plan to bring Austin back to the club from West Brom on loan. With goals a problem for Mark Warburton’s side it was hoped the 31-year-old fan favourite could add some firepower to the team. He was put straight into the side for a midweek trip to Kenilworth Road in a match played behind closed doors due to the Covid pandemic. Four minutes before half-time Austin made it a dream second debut when he drifted to the back post and nodded home Ilias Chair’s corner. A late Macauley Bonne effort made it 2-0 to kick-start a superb second half to the season that saw Rangers finish ninth.
QPR 2 Brentford 1 – February 2021, Championship
A buoyant Brentford arrived looking to do the double over Rangers for the second successive season and things looked good for the Bees early in the first half when Ivan Toney touched home a Mathias Jensen free-kick. Despite there being no fans inside the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, the second half was a pulsating, bad-tempered affair with Austin having an ongoing verbal battle with the Brentford bench throughout. Sam Field marked his debut with an equaliser midway through the second half, before his fellow West Brom loanee swept home late in the game after Rico Henry diverted a Lee Wallace cross into his path. Austin marked the goal by sprinting down the sideline to celebrate in front of Bees boss Thomas Frank. If ever a game deserved paying spectators it was this one.
QPR 1 West Brom 0 – January 2022, Championship
An enthralling, arm-wrestle of a match at a sold-out Kiyan Price Foundation Stadium was settled by a vintage Austin header in the final minute of the game as Rangers saw off the Baggies in the most dramatic of fashions. Austin was thrown into the fray for the final 30 minutes of the match and was largely well-marshalled by his former team-mates before he drifted into the six yard box to meet Chris Willock’s delightful cross with a stooping header that beat David Button and sealed all three points for his side.
QPR 2 Everton 2 (QPR won 8-7 on penalties) Carabao Cup, September 2021
Cup runs have been few and far between for QPR for the best part of almost three decades but confidence was high when Premier League strugglers Everton arrived in west London. Austin, who had scored in three previous matches against the Toffees, opened the scoring after 18 minutes with a trademark header from a Sam McCallum cross. Everton equalised through Lucas Digne before Austin made it 2-1 when he drifted inside Mason Holgate to nod past Asmir Begovic. Andros Townsend equalised shortly after halftime in what was a lively affair, but there were no further goals as the game went to penalties with Rangers winning after Austin got the shoot-out off to a perfect start with a well-struck opening spot-kick.
QPR 1 Sheffield United 3 Championship, April 2022
After an excellent first seven months of the season for Rangers, things had spiralled out of control badly as a crippling injury list and a loss of form saw them plummet out of the play-offs. The Blades’ season was the polar opposite of QPR’s as they powered into the top six having been mired in the bottom six in November. The match was Austin’s last for the club and he was handed a rare start by Warburton, in what was his last home game as manager. The veteran striker somewhat symbolically, did what he has done so many times in QPR colours when he found the net with a header from a floated cross from Albert Adomah. A patched-up Rangers side with sixth-choice Murphy Mahoney in goal were battered physically and fell apart in the second half as Austin said goodbye with his 61st goal in all competitions but on a losing note.