The Geordie talent scout who set Charlie Austin on the road to stardom has urged the striker to repay the favour – by signing for Newcastle United.
Ken Ryder unearthed Austin when he was a raw 19-year-old playing non-league for Poole, and took him to Swindon Town.
It was the start of a remarkable rise for the forward. A £2m move to Burnley followed, before Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp took him to Loftus Road.
Austin helped fire QPR to the Premier League, and 18 goals in the top flight despite seeing his side being relegated saw him included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for their internationals this month.
Newcastle are now keen to sign the 25-year-old, but with a host of other sides also chasing the player, they face stiff competition for his services.
Ryder, however, has told his former prodigy that Newcastle would be the ideal club for him.
He could carry that No 9 jersey and get 20 goals a season.Ken Ryder
And the scout, who hails from Blyth, insists Austin is big enough and good enough to carry the famous No 9 shirt if he moves to St James’s Park.
“I’m a Newcastle fan and I’d love to see him in the black and white,” said Ryder. “I’ve told him that.
“Newcastle is a massive attraction for a player who scores goals. Charlie would be the main man.
“I know Alan Shearer has come out and said Charlie should come up to Newcastle. Shearer was a one-off but Charlie has similar attributes with his build.
“He doesn’t score many goals outside the box but he knows where the goal is.
“Charlie knows the history of the club and the strikers, and if he signed and it works for him he would be a hero.
“He could carry that No 9 jersey and get 20 goals a season, which Newcastle haven’t had since Shearer left.
“He understands what it means to pull on that No 9 shirt and he’d be a success. I always say, if you can score goals you can get them at any level.
Reports have suggested that Austin, who hails from Hungerford, would prefer to remain in the south of England, having just got married this summer.
However, Ryder – now chief scout at Sheffield Wednesday – doesn’t believe that’s the case.
“People say he doesn’t want to move from the south but that’s rubbish,” he said.
“He came north when he signed for Burnley and lived just around the corner from me.
“He wouldn’t have any worries about coming north again.
“All the advice I’ve given Charlie is that I told him when he moves, to look at the style of football of the team he wants to join.
“He was going to go to Ipswich (from Swindon) but Eddie Howe came in for him at Burnley. Eddie’s Bournemouth played good football and so did Burnley, so he went there and got plenty of goals.”
Austin has come a long way since Ryder first spotted him on a wet Tuesday night at Poole. The veteran scout knew he had spotted a gem from the minute he saw him.
“When I was at Swindon we were looking for goalscorers and I noticed this guy at Poole was scoring loads of goals,” recalled Ryder.
“I went to watch him and I knew straight away he was different. When you’ve scouted as long as I have, you get used to coming away from games not being impressed, but it wasn’t the case with Charlie.
“I went down to Poole and didn’t tell anyone I was going. I paid my money and stood with the fans in the pouring rain on a Tuesday night.
“Charlie just stood out.
“I went back to Swindon and told Danny Wilson, the manager, that I was going to go back on Saturday to watch him again.
“After that, I asked Poole permission to offer him a trial. He just scored goals from the second he walked through the door.
“We ended up paying £10,000 for him and at the end of his first season he’d scored 20 goals in 32 games.
“He isn’t the quickest and hasn’t got blistering pace, but he faces the goal and gets into good positions. He’s one of the best I’ve seen at attacking the near post.
“He’d be a star at Newcastle with the right partner.”