HAVING grown up in Australia, Massimo Luongo might not quite have the same emotional attachment to Wembley as many of his Swindon Town teammates but that doesn’t mean the midfielder isn’t desperate for a chance to turn out at England’s national stadium.
Luongo’s childhood was spent in Sydney, where football plays fourth or fifth fiddle in the sporting charts to cricket, Aussie rules and both codes of rugby, and the sport does not have a national football arena that can compare to the famous north London venue.
Therefore, the 21-year-old has not developed the same childhood thirst to play on the hallowed turf at Wembley as his English peers but, with his current club just one win from a trip to football’s spiritual home, Luongo is as keen as anyone to book his place.
“I didn’t really know what Wembley was, it wasn’t a big thing for us,” he told the Advertiser. “Coming here, people say Wembley is the ultimate stage so it would be nice on the CV. It’s a big stadium, it probably suits us more than other teams and I’d look forward to it no matter what. It’s a final.
“I think everyone around the world knows about Wembley but there isn’t really an equivalent in Australia. It’s not something I would look forward to but it’s something I want to do in my career. I look at it more as a final. It’s a stage to prove ourselves and get a trophy.”
Swindon will be without Nile Ranger, Michael Smith, Jamie Reckord, Jay McEveley, Grant Hall and Nathan Thompson for the visit of Peterborough United tonight but Luongo is confident Town have the strength in depth to cope with a bout of mass absenteeism.
“Yaser’s back and we’ve got boys who weren’t in the squad who are perfectly capable of filling in,” he said. “Raffa (Raphael Rossi Branco) has come into the squad and proved himself and now it’s a chance for other boys to come into the squad and shine.
“It’s always good to have depth. You might look comfortable keeping your spot but having someone breathing down your neck pushes you. I don’t want to lose my spot, I don’t think Louis (Thompson) does, and the midfielders coming back are definitely testing us.
“It’s different variety, as well, with some of the players coming back. Tijane (Reis) coming back gives us something different on the wing and it’s interesting to see how we play, if we play a different style.
“I trust the gaffer will show us a way to play that will suit us for Monday.”