The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Jamie Holt

BOTH were born in Syd­ney and both made life-chang­ing de­ci­sions to up sticks at 18 and move halfway round the world – and Swin­don’s Mas­simo Luongo hopes the sim­i­lar­i­ties with idol Tim Cahill don’t end there.

Luongo is on the books of Tot­ten­ham but with around £90m of new tal­ent ar­riv­ing at White Hart Lane this sum­mer, his chances ap­pear limited.

Even be­fore the cheque book was opened by the Pre­mier League out­fit Luongo had agreed to re­turn to the Robins where he spent a largely suc­cess­ful cou­ple of months at the end of last sea­son.

A play-off semi-fi­nal exit was a blot on the record, but the mid­fielder did score in the 1-1 draw with Brent­ford and showed enough prom­ise to be tied down to a sea­son-long loan this term at the County Ground.

He’s still to stamp his mark in North Lon­don though – his one and only ap­pear­ance for Spurs came in the third round of the League Cup in 2011 and was marred by a missed penalty and sub­se­quent 7-6 loss on spot-kicks to Stoke.

But hav­ing seen Cahill prove his worth in the Football League with Mill­wall be­fore his big break at Ever­ton, the 20-year-old Aus­tralian ad­mits he could ben­e­fit from be­ing away from the stresses and strains of top flight football.

“It’s great to be back, there are a few fa­mil­iar faces which al­ways helps,” said Luongo. “Tot­ten­ham were keen for it to hap­pen as well. I en­joyed it so much last sea­son it made the de­ci­sion re­ally easy.

“It gives me the chance to shine, it’s so much eas­ier to ex­press my­self in this en­vi­ron­ment. There’s no real pres­sure.

“At Spurs I was more of a de­fen­sive mid­fielder, in the Scott Parker mould, but here at Swin­don I’m given a bit more freedom to get for­ward, and I en­joy that. I’m more of a box to box mid­fielder here.

“Timmy (Tim Cahill) is some­one I look up to, but I don’t nec­es­sar­ily try to base my game on him.

“See­ing the likes of him and Harry Kewell come straight over here proves it can be done, they did it so suc­cess­fully.

“I had a trial for Tot­ten­ham that my agent sorted at 17, but I couldn’t sign un­til I was 18. It was a big chance and ev­ery­one was telling me to do it and I’m re­ally glad I did.


“It wasn’t that hard to move, I knew it was a mas­sive chance, I’d had a few A League of­fers in Aus­tralia but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that route, I was a bit young and it had to be some­thing big to tempt me – and it was big.”

Fa­mil­iar faces greeted Luongo on his ar­rival back with Swin­don, in­clud­ing Spurs team­mates Ryan Ma­son, Alex Pritchard, Jack Barthram, Nathan Byrne and Grant Hall.

How­ever Kevin Mac­Don­ald, the man­ager who brought him to the club in March, left the club by mu­tual con­sent in the sum­mer.

Mark Cooper, his as­sis­tant, has been el­e­vated into the role full­time and Luongo gave the for­mer AFC Telford boss his back­ing.

“I was dis­ap­pointed not to see Kevin here this sea­son, he was the guy who brought me in and had faith in me to do a job,” he added.

“But hav­ing Coops here is great. He was here last sea­son as as­sis­tant and it makes it a bit eas­ier.

“He’s good around the boys, he knows how the club works and we trust him. Ob­vi­ously we all would have liked to have fin­ished last sea­son with pro­mo­tion, but that was last year.

“There’s not been any talk of pro­mo­tion, we’re not re­ally wor­ried about it, it’s about tak­ing one game at a time, and I’m most com­fort­able do­ing it that way, I want to be in my prime.


“A lot of the play­ers have gone from last year and the aver­age age is quite young so that’s some­thing we have to con­sider.”

De­spite play­ing in Eng­land for three years, the Aus­tralia U20 in­ter­na­tional’s par­ents had been un­able to make the trip over to see him in ac­tion be­fore the 1-0 win over Steve­nage two weeks ago. Luongo scored the win­ner, and he’s hop­ing to im­press again when they re­turn for his birth­day in late Septem­ber.

“I re­ally wanted to put on a good show for them, so it prob­a­bly got more out of me,” he con­tin­ued.

“I couldn’t have asked for more – to score and get man of the match. They are head­ing to Italy for a cou­ple of weeks and will be back to see me play again around my birth­day.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CHANCE TO SHINE: Mas­simo Luongo, left, tan­gles with Kyle Ben­nett of Don­caster Rovers


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