“No doubt He deserve ballon d’or” former harry Kane teammate make a clear doubt

Getting nominated for the Ballon d’Or while playing for Swindon in League One left Massimo Luongo, understandably, thinking it was a prank.

When the long-list for football’s most prestigious individual award was leaked in 2015, the Australian wasn’t the only one thinking his presence was a rather odd stitch up.

“It’s obviously a big honour, not many people get on it, I can say I’ve been on the Ballon d’Or list now. I don’t know what to say about it … it’s a bit random.”

Admittedly out of place on a list that included Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, his youth career saw the now 31-year-old alongside a current Ballon d’Or contender, Harry Kane.

The pair came through at Tottenham’s academy before respective loan spells, but it wasn’t really until the 2015 tournament that Luongo started to find his feet under Ange Postecoglou with his nation.

Being named the player of the tournament and earning a move to QPR, Luongo has been one to watch in the Football League ever since, and now may be reaching his pinnacle.

Stints with Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesborough were followed by an arrival at his current home in Ipswichwhere things are going rather well.

Only promoted to the Championship this season, the Tractor Boys are now pushing for a top flight return, and understandably most of the plaudits are for manager and former Manchester United assistant Kieran McKenna.

The Northern Irishman was happy to pass some of that off to Luongo, though, especially after the Sydney native was recalled to the Australian national team for the first time in four years.

“It is great news and I think everyone that has seen us play in the past nine months would certainly say deservedly so,” McKenna said.

“His form has been fantastic and he has been a big part of the team post-Christmas – a big part of the football club, really.

“He has been composed, led by character but with a real competitive edge and streak to him.

“It’s a huge sign that no matter what age you are, whether that’s the right or wrong side of 30, whatever way you want to look at it, both [Luongo and midfield partner Samy Morsy] are improving game-by-game, week-by-week, still learning, two good learners and two good football thinkers. They bring a lot to us on and off the pitch.”

And Luongo is loving life at Portman Road, as he told The Athletic: “With the coaching staff, the detail is really good. If we make subs or if we change the team up, everyone knows where they’re supposed to be. They’ve nailed the detail and they’ve got the message across. I’ve been in teams where it’s off the cuff. Modern-day football, the detail is a lot higher, but our coaching staff take it to another level.”

He added: “We know we’ve done really well when we’re sitting. We strive for consistency and a good performance. But the mentality of most of these players is that the performance comes first — as long as that is there, we sleep well at night.

“I’ve been in teams where we’ve been happy to concede and not have the ball if, in the end, you get three points somehow. That can be a great feeling but is it possible to be consistently good at that? No. When we say we want to get better, it doesn’t mean we have to be first (in the league). It’s about improving every day.”

In a full circle moment, Luongo’s first minutes for Australia in the 2020s will likely see him trying to stop his old teammate and now Bayern Munich superstar Kane, with the Socceroos travelling to Wembley for a friendly.

Since the pair last played together for Spurs in 2013, much has changed, but both are now in a place where they feel their lifelong hard work is finally set to pay off.


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