The story of Swindon's scoring sensation
Swindon striker Charlie Austin has to pinch himself every now and again to make sure he is not dreaming.
You might not have heard of the 20-year-old but if you take a look at his career trajectory it is easy to see why he is still coming to terms with his elevated status.
Austin started the season working as a bricklayer for his old man's company and playing part-time for Wessex Premier League side Poole Town.
After joining Swindon in October, he made four substitute appearances before finding the net against Carlisle on his full debut. Austin's current run of form has seen him score 10 times in his last 11 League One fixtures, as the Robins have surged up to fifth in the League One table.
It is a breathtaking, sensational start to Austin's professional career, and I was curious to find out whether he always thought he was destined to play full-time.
Austin has been a scoring sensation at Swindon
"Well, kind of," the softly-spoken Austin told me. "I always thought I could play at a higher level but maybe not at the standard I am now. Luckily I am, and everything is just like 'wow'."
Austin sounds like someone still coming to terms with what has happened to him this season; there is almost a sense of awe, even bewilderment, when he discusses the course of events over the last five months.
It perhaps shouldn't come as a total surprise because Austin spent pre-season training with League Two Bournemouth, who would have offered him a contract had the Cherries not been operating under a transfer embargo.
After a midweek game for Poole early in the season, a match in which Austin smashed home a goal from just inside the penalty box, a mate told him that a representative from Swindon had been at the game to watch him.
Austin, who had a prolific scoring record at Poole, refused to believe his friend, giving him short shrift, but two weeks later he was on trial at the Robins.
The striker was petrified, a fear way beyond the first-day nerves of any school pupil, when he turned up for training on Monday morning. But he quickly settled in, scoring in a reserve game against Swansea on the Wednesday. Shortly afterwards, he signed a professional contract.
In a short space of time, life had profoundly changed for Austin, but if the speed of events left him dizzy then the striker's rapid ascent elicited a very different reaction from Swindon chairman Andrew Fitton.
If Austin seems slightly awkward answering questions, Fitton, who took over at the County Ground in January 2008, is an engaging and charismatic character.
But it was while refereeing a game that he first noticed a 15-year-old Austin. Two years later, Austin had joined his Hungerford side.
"I was surprised he was ready for that level, but he had filled out and played extraordinarily well, even if he did not score that many goals," Fitton told me.
Austin left Hungerford when his family relocated to Poole but Fitton continued to monitor his progress, especially when he took over at Swindon.
Then Fitton had an interesting conversation with Swindon's chief scout. "One day he said to me 'I've found this great player at Poole'. I told him that he hadn't found him at all. We ended up wasting 18 months and a lot of money before we signed Charlie."
Fitton is obviously far from your ordinary chairman and has strong opinions that he is not afraid to voice. For example, he is critical of Premier League academies, accusing them of burning out young talent.
Austin himself trained with Reading as a youngster but was not taken on, in part because he had a knee injury but also because he was thought to be too small.
"Charlie, who is now 6 ft tall, is a cracking example of players that are missed by professional clubs," said the Robins chairman, who was in no way suggesting that the Royals were guilty of burning out Austin.
Every Saturday, Fitton tries to pick out one player from the opposition that would improve his side and compares his judgement with manager Wilson.
"That is how we signed Alan Sheehan - I saw him play for Leeds and a year later when we needed a player on the left, Danny reminded me that I had liked him and said 'why don't we try to sign him?'," said Fitton.
Not surprisingly, Fitton has an explanation as to why Austin has made such a remarkable start to his professional career. In short, the chairman believes that his young striker possesses an instinct that cannot be taught; he knows where the goal is and has that positional gift that allows him to be in the right place at the right time.
"If you have that instinct then you are halfway there," added Fitton. "Then it becomes a matter of hard work and psychology."
Austin, whose goals have ranged from the spectacular to the type of straightforward bread and butter finishes that mark out many a prolific goalscorer, seems to be in full agreement with his chairman when he says: "I have had to adjust my whole lifestyle.
"I've had to look at the bigger picture and realise that not only is football now my job but it is also a sport that people are 100% passionate about."
He has had precious little opportunity to visit his friends down in Poole, instead spending his spare time preserving his energy and trying to prepare mentally for his next game.
I couldn't help but wonder whether he missed anything about his old life. The answer was immediate and unequivocal.
Don Rogers won the 1969 League Cup with Swindon
"I don't miss anything about it - not when I am doing something I love," he said.
Fitton describes Austin as a level-headed young man, and I certainly wouldn't argue with him. He may well possess that well-rounded perspective that seems to me characteristic of many players who work for a living before entering the pro ranks.
Austin's timing also appears to be pretty good as he has definitely joined a club on an up-curve after a lengthy period of financial troubles.
The chairman would like Austin, a local lad, to go on to become the new Don Rogers, which won't be easy.
Not only is Rogers the most famous player to pull on a Swindon shirt but if Austin does continue his current rate of scoring it seems unrealistic to assume that clubs from higher divisions will not express a serious interest in signing him.
Thankfully for Swindon, they announced on Monday that the striker had agreed a new deal and he signed a new two-and-a-half year contract on Tuesday.
It might just be prove to be the best bit of business on what was an unremarkable transfer deadline day.