Caltex Socceroo star Tim Cahill has described Melbourne City teammate Ruon Tongyik as a “diamond” of a player with the mentality to cut-it at the top level.
Tongyik, 19, has been thrust into the Hyundai A-League furnace over the last fortnight in City’s high-stakes clashes against Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory.
The Sudanese-born centre-back made his debut in the heart of defence alongside Michael Jakobsen, before playing in a back three at stopper in the Melbourne Derby due to the Dane’s absence.
Tongyik showed phenomenal composure and quality in both performances.
Put under intense pressure by heavy press from both opponents, the youngster was never flustered and handled his individual battles superbly.
It was enough to confirm to Australia’s greatest-ever goal-scorer that Tongyik is not just a star of the future, but right now.
“Training wise he’s been exceptional. His strength, his mentality, he’s willing to train and his effort is highly professional,” Cahill said of Tongyik.
“Like it is with a lot of these young guys, Brucey [Kamau], [Daniel] Arzani, Deni [Denis Genreau] who are really developing.
“It’s great that Jakobsen was carrying a few knocks that we can bring in someone like Ruon at 19-years-old to step into two of the biggest games for us and really show his worth and fight for a place in this team.
“That’s what I love about this club is that we’re not scared to use the youngster, to develop them and also bring them into the first team as soon as possible.
“Ruon was ready, you could see in the game his very relaxed style in his challenges and everything that he does is first class.”
Tongyik joined City during the off-season after spending the last couple of years playing with Adelaide United’s National Youth League side.
He had to bide his time over the first couple of months before getting a shot in the Hyundai A-League but made the most of his chance, with a passing accuracy of almost 86%, while he’s made nine clearances and five interceptions.
The challenge for Tongyik will be keeping his feet on the ground and maintaining his form during the hectic Summer of Football period, which begins with City’s home clash against Perth Glory tonight (December 27).
That’s soon followed by a New Year’s Eve battle with the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
“The main thing for him is to just stay the way he is. He’s a very level-headed kid,” the 37-year-old striker said.
“More importantly all he focuses on is training and playing and being a great asset to the group.
“And that’s what we have, we have such a great depth in the squad that we care for what we produce as a group. Someone is always ready to step in.
“For Ruon, we’ve got a real diamond in him as a player because he just wants to learn week in, week out.”