LONDON (Reuters) - It is only a few years ago that Queens Park Rangers forward Charlie Austin was working as a bricklayer and playing in English football's minor leagues.
It was a world away from the glamour of the top flight where a hat-trick on Saturday rescued his relegation-threatened side, took his tally for the season to 11 league goals and prompted calls for him to be rewarded with an England call-up.
Only Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Chelsea's Diego Costa, two of the game's most high-profile talents, have now scored more in the Premier League than Austin this season after his latest contribution.
QPR looked down and out at 2-0 down to West Bromwich Albion at Loftus Road, before Austin took it upon himself to turn the game in their favour with three goals that delivered a priceless 3-2 victory.
Having begun his career working in some of football's most unheralded outposts, such as Kintbury Rovers, Hungerford Town and Poole Town, Austin's is a tale that could be taken straight from the annuals of the finest comic book striker.
"It's a great story for any young lad who watches or plays football," QPR boss Harry Redknapp said on Sky Sports.
"There's a young lad there that has struggled in the non-leagues for years then suddenly gets a break and comes into league football and now he is playing in the Premier League. It is 'Roy of the Rovers' stuff.
"It is fantastic for him, because he is a great lad and you could not wish it to happen to a better boy."
Austin's combative approach has perhaps unfairly seen him tagged as a traditional English centre forward, which carries disparaging undertones that he belongs to a previous generation.
Yet he has managed to find the net against Manchester City and Chelsea as well as against many of QPR's relegation rivals, all for a team that has been struggling for form, consistency and points.
Many of QPR's fellow strugglers would love to have a player finding the net as regularly as the 25-year-old, who joined QPR from Burnley for 4 million pounds ($6.25 million) last year.
"He is a very good player and he is in great form at the moment and obviously he was a real handful for us," West Brom boss Alan Irvine added.
($1 = 0.6398 British Pounds)
(Editing by Mark Meadows)