Exclusive: Choosing the Socceroos a 'no-brainer' for Massimo Luongo

The promising young midfielder on his false start in green and gold, making a name for himself in England and his international ambitions with the World Cup approaching
For Socceroos fans, 21-year-old Massimo Luongo's journey to national team selection could have ended in a bad case of deja vu. Eligible to represent Australia, Indonesia or Italy, there was little stopping the midfield maestro from becoming the next Josip Simunic or Joey Didulica.

The potential for another player to turn their back on Australia was only increased when Luongo was treated poorly in training and then frozen out of Jan Versleijen's Young Socceroos side. Such a slight could have easily caused a footballer with so many options to look elsewhere.

Thankfully though, at a time when the 'next Mark Viduka', Adrian Vranic, is reportedly being lured away from the green and gold, Australian fans have one less player to worry about. Luongo was selected for the Socceroos friendly against Ecuador, and the Swindon Town star is adamant there was never any doubt about his allegiances.

"Choosing the Socceroos was a no-brainer," Luongo said.

"I've lived in Australia for almost all of my life, and I can't speak Italian or Indonesian. Australia is where I've grown up, and I would never think of playing for another country."

To the casual fan, Luongo may have represented a surprise choice in Ange Postecoglou's latest squad. But to a dedicated follower of Australian footballers plying their trade overseas, the midfielder's consistent performances at club level have earned Luongo his chance to shine in national team colours.

Speaking to Goal from Swindon's training ground, the Sydney-born youngster was ecstatic about the opportunity.

'It obviously means a great deal. It's a huge step for my career, and hopefully it will lead on to bigger things," Luongo said.

"I'm definitely looking forward to joining the camp, seeing how the team plays, and building a good relationship with the other Socceroos."

Luongo will be hoping his experience in camp is markedly different from his time with the Young Socceroos squad under then-coach Versleijen. The Dutchman criticised Luongo's work rate and played him out of position, despite the youngster nursing an injury.

"Basically he [Versleijen] said I didn't work hard enough for the team. I got injured in the first session and I think he took that as if I didn't really want to be part of the squad. And I never played in my position in the midfield – he put me on the wing in a game. I don't think he was really keen on me in the first place."

Despite his poor treatment in the Under-20's camp, the midfielder insisted that particular experience did not diminish his desire to play for the national team.

"That didn't affect me whatsoever.

I knew once I left that camp that I'd still be playing football at Tottenham and going in the right direction. Obviously it was a setback, but I'm really happy to be in the senior team now and I hope to pull on the shirt against Ecuador."

Luongo was picked for the forthcoming friendly thanks to his impressive club form, with the midfielder already notching up over 40 appearances in all competitions for the Robins.

"This is my first full season in any league, so having that many appearances under my belt is great."

Luongo joined Swindon from Tottenham, where he had spent several years in the youth set-up and on the fringes of the first team. While the midfielder credits the north London club with drastically improving his technical ability, he admits to not being overly disappointed at moving to greener pastures.

"I was never really in the frame for first-team football, maybe a little bit under Harry Redknapp, but I could see it wasn't really going anywhere. It was a no brainer to move and get minutes under my belt."

The midfielder's sole appearance for Spurs proved a bittersweet moment, coming on in the League Cup against Stoke City only to have his spot kick saved as the match went to penalties. Luongo prefers to focus on the positives though, and claims the highlight of making his debut was not overshadowed by the unfortunate ending.

"Obviously I missed the penalty, and that was a bit unlucky. But I went into training the next day and no-one really said anything - people miss penalties, that's football."

Luongo's resilience could prove invaluable if he is picked for the Socceroos squad to tackle their daunting World Cup group of Spain, Holland and Chile. While the Robins mainstay isn't getting ahead of himself, he acknowledges the possibility of playing in Brazil is enticing.

"Getting to Brazil is my short-term goal," Luongo joked.

"I haven't really thought about it. I just want to get an appearance on Wednesday, if possible. That said, everyone wants to play in the World Cup."