Modric my model, says Socceroo WC hopeful

Having played just a handful of minutes for the Socceroos, it's fair to say it's been a whirlwind few weeks for Massimo Luongo who like many team-mates will have a nervous wait before the final 23-man squad for the World Cup is announced.

And if he makes the cut for the 23-man Socceroo squad – announced Tuesday morning Australian time – he could end up playing against a former Spurs teammate in Friday’s friendly with Croatia (Sat morning AEST).

But when you're a teenager and pitch-forked into training sessions amongst the likes of Gareth Bale, Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart, you have no choice but to take things in your stride.

That's the path Luongo has taken to get where he is now, heading to England at just 17 after a lack of interest from any of the Hyundai A-League clubs.

A contact in the UK knew then-Tottenham youth coach Tim Sherwood, giving the Sydney youngster a trial at the North London club.

The hard-working midfielder impressed the right people to earn a contract at Spurs, so instead of playing in the NYL in Australia he was suddenly in the thick of first-team training at a big EPL club.

"It was a huge buzz and Harry [Spurs manager Harry Redknapp] had me training with the first team a lot and it was amazing," Luongo told

"Bale was quite quiet so I didn't get to talk to him much. Training with Luka Modric, and Van Der Vaart is something completely different as well.

"Those two players technically were brilliant. It was a culture shock as well, to see how those guys do things. I was learning from them every training session.

"Luka (Modric) was one of the players who I based my game on a little bit because the way he plays, it's every midfielders dream to play like that.

"Looking at him, especially early on when I was on trial, the things he did he wasn't big or quick or anything but so intelligent."

The 21-year-old made one first-team appearance for Spurs – in the League Cup against Stoke – but when Redknapp moved on and Andre Villas-Boas came in, he was suddenly on the outer.

He went on loan to Ipswich for a season and then Swindon Town the next year, where he is now a full-time player with the League One outfit.

Luongo sees Town as the perfect club to develop his game and one-day get back to an EPL club.

And he says the overall experience at Tottenham – both the good and the bad – will hold him in good stead and helped him grow up quickly as a person and player.

"The way I lived, just training all the time, I never thought I could be a professional footballer," Luongo explains.

"The discipline you need and the sacrifices you have to do.

"I was living on my own, I didn’t really have many close friends in the team.

“It wasn't until about six months to a year that I started being accepted into the team and the boys started to respect me because I was half a decent player.

"Going abroad you learn that you need a personality to make it over there. Especially being new amongst all the London boys, it was tough for a good six months to a year.

"But once you are in there it's probably clear sailing after that."

It's been a pretty smooth ride for Luongo over the last 12 months, with the youngster notching up 53 games for Town this season in an impressive campaign.

One thing that immediately strikes you about Luongo is his calmness, seemingly unflappable despite everything going on around him.

"It's just the way I've always been," he explains.

"Even as a youngster I didn't make every team, I was never giving anything or been seen as the future of Australia or anything like that so I just kept my head down and kept working.

"I've always kept my head down and worked hard. Until I'm something massive maybe it will be different but at the moment I still think I haven't done much.

"As a team we shouldn't worry too much about the reputations of the other teams either.

"You can go on about the other teams and analyse them and try and prevent them but at the end of the day if our team's not on it and where not 100 percent and haven't played to the best of our ability then we've got no chance.

"If we do play at 100 percent then anything can happen."

The Socceroos play Croatia in a friendly next Friday night (kick off 9am AEST time Saturday morning live on Fox Sports) ahead of their tournament opener against Chile on June 13.

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