Howe was desperate to pluck the Southampton striker from his building site when he was banging in goals for non-League Poole Town.
But despite training with Bournemouth, Austin joined Swindon – because the Cherries were subject to a Football League transfer embargo.
Howe, whose side face the Saints tonight, said: “I spoke to Eddie Mitchell, our chairman at the time, trying to find a way around the embargo so we could sign him.
“But – through no fault of his own – the league had made its mind up that we were shut down for the season.
“We were still working day to day thinking the embargo could be lifted but we had no chance. We had to be fair to Charlie and told him, 'You need to think of your own career'.
“We couldn't keep the lad waiting forever. It's very frustrating because the player has gone on to do so well."