New star Luongo hails Socceroos' professionalism

He announced his arrival as a force to be reckoned with courtesy of a goal and an assist in Australia's 4-1 Asian Cup win over Kuwait on Friday, but despite his relatively low profile prior to the game at AAMI Park, the star turn produced by Massimo Luongo was no accident.

Since becoming part of Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos set-up last season, the Swindon Town midfielder - who defied the odds to be included in his country's World Cup squad - says he has benefitted from regular exposure to world-class standards in all aspects of professional football.

Such is the meticulous attention to detail now present behind the scenes of the green and gold, Luongo, a player who developed in the elite academy of Premier League powerhouse Tottenham Hotspur, believes Australia are among of a handful of teams now leading the way in nutrition, sports science and coaching.

"It's the most top professionalism I've ever experienced," he told Goal Australia editor Iain Strachan on the eve of the Oman game. 

"It's a massive contrast to everything (at Swindon), even the food. We don't have the resources, the money. Everything that's involved, it costs money. It benefits me more coming here more than anything.

"Tottenham had the facilities, had the money, the staff, everything. (But) to be honest, I still don't think they would compete with the way the Aussies do it. I think we're right up there from what I've experienced."

It might sound at times like Big Brother is watching the 23 members of Postecoglou's squad, but Luongo insisted the level of physiological scrutiny is worth it.

"They weigh us, urine tests in the morning, hydration has to be perfect before training," he said.

"They even monitor the way we sleep. We've got a little device that sorts the way we sleep. In the morning we wake up and they can see everything, if we toss and turn, all that stuff. It gives them an idea of what you've done, the result is; did you get a good or bad night's sleep?"


All that intricate fine-tuning is geared to ensuring the 11 players sent out onto the field are able to execute Postecoglou's demanding game-plan, something they did with aplomb after overcoming a shaky start on Friday.

"It's always intense when I come here," Luongo said.

"It's always demanding. Every session is quite difficult to keep up with the rest of the boys.

"We want to win the ball back high in a dangerous place. We want to counter their play as well. If we win the ball high we want to get an attempt in on goal." 

The man of the moment also offered some insights into the character of Australia's no-nonsense coach.

"He doesn't really communicate with us off the pitch," Luongo said of the boss.

"He watches though. He's always watching, takes everything into account. He keeps to himself quite a lot."

Asked if he found Postecoglou intimidating, the 22-year-old said: "I did at first, as most managers are. But that's his style, that's the way he is. (When you get to know him) then you can relax a little bit because you know it's nothing personal." 

More eye-catching performances from Luongo in the Asian Cup could spark fresh transfer rumours linking the prodigious talent with a move away from the County Ground.

"We're doing quite well, pushing for promotion. If it doesn't happen this year, definitely next year," he said of his third-tier club's quest to go up. 

"Being there, playing every week, I'm always in the shop window. It's just up to someone, whether or not they want to, to make an offer."

Rotherham had several bids for Luongo rejected in the off-season following their promotion from League One to the Championship, with the man himself taking a cautious approach over any potential move.

"If I go somewhere really high (up the leagues) and I don't play, there's no point going is there? If I go somewhere really low and they play a different style (I might go backwards)," he said.

"I can play the typical English way because I've been brought up that way."

And while a stint on the continent would appear to suit the technically gifted youngster, Luongo is in fact adamant he wants to stay in the UK and prove himself in the hurly burly of British football. 

"It's not ideal, it's not something I'm looking forward to," he said when asked about potentially crossing the Channel.

"I've always wanted to play in England and I am. I'm quite comfortable there. If a silly offer came in from a nice team, it's hard to turn down. But it's not really my goal, to go to Europe."

Whatever the newest Socceroos star chooses to do next in his career, be it staying at Swindon and leading their promotion charge, or seeking a fresh challenge elsewhere, he looks set to keep on growing each time he joins up with the national team. 

And if the win over Kuwait is anything to go by, he'll repay Postecoglou and Australia's fans in spades for each step he takes along the way.

Tickets to the two remaining Socceroos group matches are still available. Click here to get yours today.