“I want to play in the NHL” repeated Roberto Luongo
TORONTO | Like all boys his age, Roberto Luongo cherished the dream of playing in the NHL. He never doubted that he would achieve his goal.
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Her parents Antonio and Pasqualina remember those times very well. We had the chance to meet them at the hotel of the one who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this evening.
“When he was little, Roberto was ambitious and passionate, says Pasqualina Luongo. He always worked hard and was conscientious.
« He was always saying, ‘Mom, Dad, I want to play in the NHL one day. He was two or three years old. He never doubted himself.
Mathieu Boulay – JDM
Pasqualina and Antonio Luongo are very proud of their son Roberto. In a few hours, he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
However, his parents were realistic. They knew the odds of getting to the best circuit in the world.
“When asked if he had something else in mind, he kept saying he was going to play in the NHL. He said that to everyone. He never wanted to do anything else even though he was very good at school.
Midget AAA: the click
The guardian’s parents took a few years to realize their son’s potential. They wanted to see him stay on the school benches as long as possible.
“We realized the extent of its potential when the agents started to contact us, specifies Antonio Luongo. We didn’t know that and we didn’t know what they were used for. Our child was only 15 years old.
Roberto’s selection with the Montreal-Bourassa Canadiens came with a bill of $2,500. This good news came with a moment of trepidation.
“We had some financial problems, confirms Ms. Luongo. We didn’t expect him to play midget AAA in his second year bantam.
“It was expensive. Looks like fate was set for him. We received help from several people. Everyone helped us in their own way like my father with his goalkeeper equipment.
“Today, there are several people that we must thank and that we will never forget. We will always be very grateful.”
Before the 1995 QMJHL Draft, the goaltender and his parents had reached an agreement.
“He was told that if he was not drafted among the first six overall, he would go to study and play hockey in the United States, says Ms. Luongo. His chances of playing in the NHL would be slimmer if he were drafted further. Playing in the NHL was like winning at 6/49!
“We thought he could have a diploma and a career. While playing in the QMJHL, we feared that he would not finish his studies. He had so much academic potential.”
The Val-d’Or Foreurs selected the goaltender second overall and the parents had no choice but to respect the pact with their son. He took over the management of Val-D’Or at the age of 16. A news that had caused a stir in the Italian family.
Luckily, Roberto found himself in a family with two people with Italian roots. It felt like home.
It was the start of a long and beautiful career for the goalkeeper.
A great pride
In the next few hours, their son Roberto will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His parents will be filled with a sense of pride when they see the eldest of their three children take the stage at Meridian Hall.
« It’s like unreal, » says Ms. Luongo. I never believed, even in my remotest dreams, that he would ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I’ve always been a big hockey fan and I know several players who are already in the temple. It is a pride to see that Roberto will now be among them.
“He deserves this honor. We made the sacrifices, but he was the one who accomplished everything.”
« We don’t see Roberto as a star, but as a son, » adds Antonio Luongo. We are proud of him. We are happy to see him in the temple.”