Southampton striker Charlie Austin has revealed that his injury heartbreak last season has spurred him on as the new Premier League campaign begins this weekend.
Austin’s first full season at St Mary’s was cut short after he dislocated his shoulder in the Europa League clash with Hapoel Be’er Sheva last December. The striker missed out on Saints’ EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United and only returned to action for two Premier League cameos before the domestic campaign ended in May.
It was frustrating because it was just a freak injury, really, so I had to knuckle down
After hitting nine goals before his season-wrecking injury, including five in four games in September, Austin is now hoping to begin the new season with a similar bang, starting against Swansea City on Saturday.
“I was doing really well and had nine goals before the start of December,” the 28-year-old told The Big Issue. “I couldn’t have really asked for much more. Then I obviously got the injury and it was frustrating because it was just a freak injury, really, so I had to knuckle down.
“Any injury as a professional footballer is not good. But with me being older and having the injury before, that definitely helped me in dealing with it.
“I was delighted for the lads to go on the run they did and get to the cup final, but mentally for me it was tough. But that’s part and parcel of being a footballer and I think I dealt with it in my own way – it’s as simple as that.
“As I said, it’s all about staying fit now for me because I don’t want to put myself in that position again.”
The former QPR man, who moved to the Saints for £4 million in 2016, was speaking as part of a unique new partnership between The Big Issue and the south coast club.
You can read more from Austin – as well as other pieces on the work of the Saints Foundation, what Lawrie McMenemy would say to his 16-year-old self and a whole lot more – in the special edition Saints match-day programme produced in conjunction with The Big Issue.
The magazine is available now around Southampton and Hampshire and will serve as the programme for Saturday’s clash with the Swansea City at St Mary’s.
For readers who are not from the south coast or can’t make it to the game, the first-of-its-kind magazine is available from The Big Issue Shop.
Austin, just like us at The Big Issue, is well behind the club’s activities in the community with Saints Foundation.
It just goes to show what the club is about. It is a family and community-orientated football club
He says: “I’ve got to be honest, it is faultless. What the club does for the area is great. For us as players as well it is nice to see. You don’t mind doing the things that help out and make people happy.
“It just goes to show what the club is about. It is a family and community-orientated football club. It is nice to see that everyone is pulling together to help people that perhaps aren’t in as fortunate positions as others.”
Pic credit: Matt Watson, Chris Moorhouse