Armband honour for Aussie Luongo

World Cup hopeful Massimo Luongo’s rise continued on the weekend after being left with a “cheeky smile” when handed the captaincy for Swindon Town’s final game of the season.

The Sydney-born 21-year-old is well liked by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou after being given his debut in March’s friendly against Ecuador and has enjoyed a breakout season, with the Swindon armband his latest accolade.

The ex-Tottenham midfielder appears likely to be part of Australia’s preliminary 30-man World Cup squad named next week, after a strong campaign where he’s made 54 appearances and scored six goals.

And Luongo added another bow to his string, taking on the captaincy in the absence of suspended Swindon skipper Nathan Thompson and Darren Ward for Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Rotherham.

Luongo led from the front with a man-of-the-match display for his side.

Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser, Luongo admitted the honour had come as a surprise to him, but was delighted to receive it.

“The gaffer didn’t tell me before or anything, he just named the team and said ‘Mass is captain’,” Luongo said.

“I had a cheeky smile on my face but I was happy to do it.

“I’m not necessarily one to shout and scream but if I can lead in other ways, whether that’s the way I play, driving with the ball, maybe that’s what he sees.

“It was a privilege.”

Swindon boss Mark Cooper has regularly praised Luongo this season, having joined the club permanently from Spurs last August.

Luongo has impressed with his box-to-box style, composure on the ball, incisive passing and combative nature in the challenging 46-game English third tier.

Swindon’s season is over after finishing just outside the League One playoffs in eighth, but Luongo is in the mix for the club’s Player of the Season award.