Southampton striker Charlie Austin and midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg each received high honours from their team and Europe in recent weeks.
Austin, 27, was recently named to the UEFA Europa League Team of the Week, his first such honour. The award comes on the back of two goals in Thursday’s win at home vs. Sparta Prague, 3-0.
It’s just the latest in a succession of successes for the Saints’ man, who was released from Reading’s academy as a youth and got his break playing part-time amateur football.
From laying bricks for his family’s construction business to scoring braces in European competition, the Englishman has seen a meteoric rise through Burnley and Queens Park Rangers.
Joining Southampton in January, Austin currently leads the team in goals through all competitions. He and Jay Rodriguez, another unsung hero, have two apiece.
Charlie Austin has so far struggled to find his way into the regular starting XI for Southampton, pulling rotation duty with Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond. A recent run of good form, capped by the goals on Thursday, could give him a strong case to see more playtime.
I was lucky to take this award, but in the end it’s about all of the players who carry each other on the way.
For Southampton’s other awardee, awards, accolades and high expectations have become somewhat expected. 21 year old Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg spent his youth in the Bayern Munich system being hailed as the second coming of Bastian Schweinsteiger and collecting a share of Bayern’s impressive silverware.
Though the Bundesliga ultimately didn’t pan out, the experience left Højbjerg with a maturity and experience beyond his relatively young age, as well as a fair bit of talent. These qualities have endeared him to Southampton supporters early-on and were recently recognized by kit sponsors Under Armour, who named him their August Player of the Month.
The award, decided by a vote of fans, represents a vote of confidence in the Dane’s natural talent and ability to take Southampton to the next level. Ever the team player, Højbjerg showed appreciation for the endorsement but emphasized the role of the squad in his remarks.
“It’s about the team helping me and about me helping the team,” Højbjerg told club media. “I was lucky to take this award, but in the end it’s about all of the players who carry each other on the way.”
Whether lucky, beloved, or just plain good, the awards represent a consistent pattern of developing talent in Southampton’s squad across the board. As the club marches on, fans can expect a lot more where that came from.