31.01.2015 15:45 h

Luongo could play for Barcelona, says Aussie boss

Australia's new football sensation Massimo Luongo could one day play for Barcelona, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou gushed after the Swindon Town player helped the hosts win the Asian Cup on Saturday.

The 22-year-old, more accustomed to playing in front of a few thousand in far-flung English towns such as Yeovil or Scunthorpe, smashed in Australia's first goal in their 2-1 extra-time victory over South Korea in front of 76,000 in Sydney.

"When I first went to watch Massimo at Swindon I was cursing him," Postecoglou told reporters after Luongo was voted player of the tournament.

"It was a windy old day and I thought why wasn't he playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid -- but now he might end up there anyway.

"The fact that he was playing in (the third-tier) division one didn't put me off. We had to cast our net far and wide," added Postecoglou, who has forced his critics to eat humble pie after his decision to overhaul the Socceroos side.

Luongo made an instant impact at the Asian Cup, scoring in Australia's opening win over Kuwait and producing a string of high-energy performances which saw him named player of the tournament.

"We went to the World Cup (last year) and he didn't play a minute -- look at him now," said Postecoglou. "The whole point of that experience was to prepare him for this. We knew he was a guy who deserved an opportunity and he's grabbed it with both hands.

"He's played a lot more than I thought but he's been impossible to leave out."

Wrapped in an Australian flag, Luongo insisted his first priority was to return to Swindon from Sydney and help his club after substitute James Troisi's extra-time goal gave the Socceroos their first Asian title.

"I want to be a Socceroo for as long as I can," he said. "But in the short term, I want to get Swindon promoted," he said. "I'm back there in four days. I'm not worried about getting a move or anything like that. It's just about going up and if we do, that's brilliant."

Luongo revealed that Postecoglou's rousing team huddle had inspired Australia after Son Heung-Min's dramatic injury-time equaliser had forced extra time.

"The boss said together we can make history and we have," he said. "No words can describe how I feel. Yeah, this is definitely one to remember."

Luongo's long-range strike stunned South Korea, coming on the stroke of half-time and against the run of play.

"I don't remember much about it," he said. "I was just in the moment. I had the confidence to have a shot and it went in. I definitely enjoyed that one."

South Korea captain Ki Sung-Yueng tipped his cap to Luongo, but confessed he had no idea who he played for.

"Yeah, he's a good player," said the Swansea City midfielder. "I didn't know he was playing for Swindon. I think he can play higher up. He deserved to be (the tournament) MVP. -- he was definitely player of the tournament."