Massimo Luongo: From Tottenham youth ranks to World Cup participation

The Tottenham Hotspur youth academy can rival just about any club in England currently, with plenty of rising stars cutting their teeth in the Spurs junior ranks before making a name for themselves in the professional game.

While superstar striker Harry Kane is the shining light, other international players such as Harry Winks, Ryan Mason, Nail Bentaleb and Andros Townsend have all graduated from the Lilywhites youth system to excel in top-flight football.

However, given the strength of the current Tottenham side, Mauricio Pochettino recently admitted that it is harder than ever for young starlets to reach the required standard to break into the first-team reckoning.

As such, there are inevitably some that do not get their chance and are allowed to pursue their footballing dream elsewhere – despite possessing real quality.

One such player is midfielder Massimo Luongo, who was once tipped to become a first-team regular at Tottenham.

Despite this not materialising, the Australia international will impact on World Cup 2018 odds this summer as he represents his country in front of a global audience.

The Sydney-born 25-year-old moved to North London in 2011 to join up with the Spurs under-18 side after impressing on a trial and ended up spending two years on the club’s books.

Despite progressing through the ranks and taking a place in the first-team squad, Luongo was not given the opportunity to represent Tottenham in the Premier League – despite coming close.

The Australian was an unused substitute in a 0-0 Premier League draw against Liverpool at Anfield back in early 2012, with his only competitive action for Spurs coming in a solitary outing in cup football.

Luongo’s dreams quickly turned to nightmares though, as the midfielder missed a penalty in a third-round shoot-out against Stoke City to see Tottenham eliminated from the League Cup in September 2011.

What will be, will be.

After this loan stints at Ipswich Town and Swindon Town followed, before Luongo left Tottenham in search of regular first-team football in 2013 – joining the latter club on a permanent basis.

So, how has he fared since being sold by Spurs?

To the Australian’s credit, he has never been short of football since leaving Tottenham, with Luongo a regular starter come Saturday afternoons over the last five years.

Two positive campaigns for Swindon in League One earned the hard-working battler a move up the chain to Queens Park Rangers, where he remains today.

Luongo is closing in on 100 Championship appearances for the Loftus Road outfit and despite the London side having a high turnover of players during his time at the club, the Australian has been a virtual ever-present.

The 25-year-old former Tottenham man has captained QPR and played an integral role in keeping the cash-strapped outfit in English football’s second tier in recent campaigns.

While the R’s seem unlikely to be challenging for promotion to the Premier League any time soon, it is not unreasonable to think that the reliable and hardworking Luongo is good enough to play in the top flight – and he could get the opportunity elsewhere in the future.

For his country, Luongo is part of the next generation of British-based Australian players hoping to establish the side on the international scene.

The midfielder has earned 32 international caps for the Socceroos since making his debut in 2014 and will be part of the squad that travels to Russia for this summer’s World Cup.

Luongo played a crucial role in Australia winning the Asian Cup in 2015, being named player of the tournament in the process.

However, the emergence of Aaron Mooy and Jackson Irvine, along with the presence of Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan and Tom Rogic, means that the Socceroos’ strongest position is in central midfield.

Luongo was not an automatic starter in Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign but is a player that the national side has trusted and relied on over recent years.

Tottenham will have a host of international players set to star in the World Cup in June and July, competing on the biggest stage.

However, another familiar face looks likely to be donning the green and gold of Australia and featuring in the showcase in Russia too – with Luongo’s Spurs roots leading to a successful subsequent career for club and country.