Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo feels everyone in his country is now a Tottenham supporter following the remarkable start Ange Postecoglou has made to life in England.
Spurs lead the Premier League on goal difference from north London rivals Arsenal going into the international break and are unbeaten in the league since the former Socceroos boss took charge.
He is the first Australian to be appointed in England’s top flight and has caused a sensation in his home country by transforming the club’s playing style in just a few months.
Luongo, who after helping Ipswich to second place in the Championship has been recalled to the national team for the first time since 2019 for Friday’s meeting with England at Wembley and next week’s game against New Zealand, was an unused member of Postecoglou’s squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He has featured in every one of his club’s league fixtures this campaign as Kieran McKenna’s side have won nine of their first 11 games to install themselves as early favourites to land consecutive promotions.
It follows a period in the international wilderness during which he endured difficult spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough, with injuries contributing to a lack of playing time and a “difficult time mentally”.
His last call-up was in October 2019, but he has impressed enough at Portman Road to earn a recall from boss Graham Arnold.
Australia reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar under Arnold – their fifth consecutive finals – before being eliminated by eventual winners Argentina, their best performance at the tournament since 2006.
And Luongo, who was long-listed for the Ballon d’Or in 2015 in part for his showing at the Socceroos’ victorious Asian Cup campaign, said that though there are comparisons to be made, the two coaches should be judged on their own merits.
“They’re completely different, like most managers,” he said. “Ange has his ways, Arnie has his ways. (The 2014 World Cup) was definitely an enjoyable time. (Postecoglou) brought me from Swindon in League One and he gave me my chance.
“What he’s doing now is incredible. Every Aussie is following him now, I think every Aussie is secretly a Tottenham supporter. It’s great to watch from afar.
“Being in this country, I think he’s just a genuine person, you see that in his media interviews. He’s got so much passion for the game, he’s just hungry for success. And that’s what we have here (with Arnold).”
Australia are ranked 27th in the world but were buoyed by their success in Qatar, knocking out Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark to progress from their group.
They will be looking to replicate the result the last time they met England in London, running out 3-1 winners at West Ham’s Upton Park as Three Lions manager Sven-Goran Eriksson made 11 half-time substitutions.
“England are one of the best in the world,” said Luongo. “But even at Ipswich we look at teams ahead of us who we want to replicate, (like) Man City, the best team in the world.
“We’re alright, we’re doing well, we’re a good Australia team. People underestimate that.
“No matter who you play I think Aussies have that DNA that you don’t just roll over and give up. That Argentina game (in Qatar), I watched it, if it goes on for another 30 minutes, we get an equaliser, easily an equaliser. It’s just the nature of football. When momentum is with you, you never know.”
He added that there have been significant changes to the national team set-up since his last call-up.
“(There are) a lot of young players,” he said. “The staff, there’s a lot more backing now. The set-up has (improved), there are no corners cut. Things you wouldn’t even think of are covered, more beds and physios, the food; everything. They’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s as top-level as you can get.
“The expectation now is really high. The World Cup is a big evidence that we can beat top teams, especially European teams.
“I think we’re definitely in a transition period of younger players coming through. At the moment you can’t really judge the team based on the first year of four years building up to a World Cup.
“The manager’s got three more years to build a team and see where they get to. These games are a building process. I promise you the team now will look very different to the next World Cup team.”