Charlie Austin's rise from the rubble
FOOTBALL FOCUS - 17 November, 12:15 GMT, BBC One
Working on a building site in Basingstoke barely three years ago, Burnley striker Charlie Austin never expected to be on a par with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But such are the 23-year-old former bricklayer's record-breaking feats in the Championship this season, he finds his goalscoring tally (20 goals in 18 appearances) on a par with that of the La Liga pair - Messi has 20 from 17, Ronaldo 20 from 17.
"To be in the same sentence as those two for a short space of time is unbelievable for an ex-bricky," Austin tells BBC Football Focus.
"But they're world class players".
It's early on a fresh Tuesday morning in East Lancashire as Austin strolls out of his home to meet us, but he's not going to complain about his commute to the club's training ground.
His morning routine used to be very different.
"I used to get up at six and drive for an hour in my blue van from Bournemouth to Basingstoke - they were the tough days," he explains.
"Especially as the winter came, you had the wet and the cold and the snow and the hail.
"My dad would let me leave work an hour early if I had a game. I'd drive back an hour to Bournemouth, get my bag ready and be off to the game for a half six meet - so on a Tuesday it was a rush.
"All my kit was in the back of the blue van, covered in cement."
But the days of working Monday to Friday for his dad, Fred, must seem like a distant memory.
Now he is the most free-scoring striker in all four professional divisions of English football and has been rewarded with the Championship Player of the Month award for October.
"It's nice to get that award," says Austin. "With all the Championship players there is, I've done really well.
"But if it wasn't for my team-mates I wouldn't be in a position to get that award, so I'm really happy."
But everything changed when Danny Wilson brought him to League One with Swindon in 2009.
His scoring record of 37 goals in 63 games for the Robins meant it was not long before he made the step up to the Championship. In January 2011 Eddie Howe made Austin his first signing after taking over at Burnley.
The journey from blue van man to claret and blue had been a quick one, and after an injury-hit first season at Turf Moor, his emphatic start to this campaign has set the league alight, raising the eyebrows of some of the country's top clubs.
Fred made the 550-mile round trip to watch his son score a record-breaking winner in the home victory over Leeds earlier this month, where he became the quickest player in the club's history to reach 20 goals in a season.
"When I first came up here [to Burnley] it was tough," Austin explains. "I got injured so I didn't play for the rest of the season and it was tough for me - away from my family - just me and my girlfriend.
"But now I'm up here and everything's gone really well; I've just had a new born little girl so I've been more chilled out.
"She was born first week of the season, so I can say she's my lucky charm."
Changes off the field may have brought on a new found maturity for Austin, but at the club where he parks his car ahead of this morning's session these are also times of transition.
It is just over a month since manager Howe left to return to Bournemouth and new Clarets boss Sean Dyche has enjoyed a positive start since taking over, with the continued help of Austin's goals.
"I was disappointed that [Howe] left," says Austin. "But no one can argue with the family reasons [why] he did.
"You just have to get on with it now. The new manager has come in and he's been great to work with in the three games that we've had.
"He's come in, set his ideas out, and the lads have bought into it.
"We're going on really well - the training is great and [so is] the way he attacks games."
With the best part of a week to prepare for Saturday's home game against Charlton, Dyche puts his charges through their paces with a strenuous session at Burnley's revamped training centre, but there are no complaints from a squad who seem prepared to go the hard yards.
Dyche's side sit just four points off the play-off places, sparking renewed appetite for a return to the top flight.
And if you believe the speculation, it is a move up the ranks one or two clubs would like Austin to make individually. Not that he's letting it distract him.
"It happened to me when I was at Swindon and it nearly affected my move - so I won't get involved in any of that side of things," states Austin.
"I'll just get my head down, work hard in training and in the games and I'm just here playing for Burnley and that's what I like doing.
"Obviously you hear about it [speculation] but you don't really think about it because you can lose a lot of concentration, so I'll just work hard in training and in games."
With a recent background like his, it is perhaps not a surprise Austin's emphasis is on putting in the hard graft. Only now the focus has shifted from building walls to scoring goals.
"I get excited about all the things in football," he says. "But when I have days when I get too carried away with myself I look back at where I've come from.
"I realise that's what I could go back to if things go wrong. But hopefully they won't."
You can watch the full interview with Charlie Austin on Saturday's Football Focus on BBC One at 12:15 GMT.