Massimo Luongo had all but given up hope of ever playing for the Socceroos just a few months ago, let alone have the chance to go to a World Cup.
The talented midfielder, once on the books of Tottenham Hotspur and training alongside Gareth Bale, felt he was out of sight out of mind in the relative obscurity of England's League One with Swindon Town.
So slim did he think his chances were Luongo even booked a holiday with his girlfriend following Town’s campaign.
"I booked a holiday in Turkey already and it's exactly when the World Cup is on," Luongo revealed on Friday.
"I've got that to fall back on if things don't work out for me here but I'd take the World Cup over the holidays."
But if his season with the Robins is anything to go by - which included a whopping 53 games – the 21-year-old will probably need to change those plans.
After going largely unnoticed by national team selectors at all age levels, Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou was impressed enough to give Luongo his first senior cap in March's friendly against Ecuador.
While delighted to get his first taste via a 15 minute cameo off the bench, it took the former APIA Leichhardt and Sydney Olympic junior by surprise.
"I didn't really think of playing for the Socceroos because I wasn't involved when I was younger and it wasn't something that was on my mind," Luongo said.
"I just thought if it happens it happens; it's not something I'll push. If it doesn't then I'm playing regular football anyway so I just focused on my club and it's paid off.
"The new manager coming into the Socceroos has probably helped me out a little bit and I've been involved for two camps and they know a bit about me compared to nothing."
Luongo knows there are no guarantees he will make the final cut for Brazil, especially in a squad choc-full of midfield talent.
But he certainly is the type of player Postecoglou likes, assured on the ball, durable with the ability to get from box-to-box.
He says his season in League One has furthered his ability as a player immensely.
"It's developed me in a certain way that's different than if you were playing in say the 'nicer' leagues," he said.
"This year has been a successful one for me individually and being here is the icing on the cake.
"If I get a few more seasons in like this one I could be anywhere. But it's about getting down to business and training now makes things realistic and everyone get their heads on it and start having a proper camp."
A proud Sydney boy, Luongo said it would be a huge honour if he gets the chance to play in front of his family and friends in the friendly against South Africa on May 26 at ANZ Stadium.
"I'm here just to learn as many of the boys are, get the experience...and show [Ange Postecoglou what I'm all about," he said.
"I don't see any negatives about it. I'm not nervous, if anything I'm excited to possibly have the chance to play against [the likes of Spain and Netherlands.
"It's a way of measuring yourself against the best in the world and see how far off you are or how good you compare to them."
Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB
Monday 26 May 2014
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!
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