The burning passion that drives Luongo

Massimo Luongo says the disappointment of not playing a minute at the 2014 World Cup is driving him as the Socceroos strive to qualify for Russia 2018.

Luongo, now 23, was one of just four Australian outfield players who didn’t see a minute of action in Brazil despite his potential.

The QPR midfielder has progressed to become a key Socceroo since then, winning the 2015 Asian Cup MVP and having started six of Australia’s last seven games.

“It left me a little bit hungry,” Luongo told FourFourTwo about the 2014 World Cup. “You’re right there but you didn’t get to taste it. 

“Mind you, the experience of being there was unbelievable. I think it benefitted me as a player. 

“Playing was just that little icing on the cake which I didn’t get to experience. 

“You could say it’s driving me at the moment but we’ve got the qualifiers to get through first.”

Luongo insisted despite not playing, his experience in Brazil was a boost for him in the long run.

“I can’t put my finger on it but coming back from the World Cup, going into Swindon, I felt like a completely different player,” he said.

“I don’t know if it was confidence or whatever but I felt there was a big difference from the previous season to the new season.”

After his breakout performances at the Asian Cup, Luongo was linked with the likes of Aston Villa and Sevilla, but settled for Championship club QPR.

His maiden season with the Rs was mixed, going from regular first-teamer, to bench warmer, before regaining his place amid three manager changes.

Ex-Socceroos Josip Skoko and Jason Culina have previously been vocal about current Australian players bailing out when the going gets tough overseas.

Luongo said his experience at QPR, albeit across only two months when out of favour, had benefitted him.

“It had everything,” Luongo said. “It’s been a rollercoaster season. 

“People experience what I did in one season, across their whole career. 

“It’s good to experience it. I’m a much better player out of it. 

“I’ve learnt to grind out when I’m not in favour with the manager and get a different side of the game.

“It’s that rough side, that dirty side of football where you’ve got to tackle, you’ve got to get on the floor and kick the ball long. 

“I’ve experienced different things and it’s benefitted me.”

Luongo said learning the gritty side of English football had helped him win over new manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who previously led Burton Albion to promotion into League One.

Under the ex-Chelsea striker, QPR are dreaming of a return to the Premier League, although expectations are tempered with an off-season of transition expected at Loftus Road.

“If he can do it with Burton, I’m pretty sure he can do it with QPR,” Luongo said.

“Obviously there’s a turnaround with what he’s trying to do at QPR. I think it’s possible, but when I can’t tell you when it’ll happen.”