'I didn't think I'd play again', admits Westfield Matildas star Simon

It has been a whirlwind 12 months for left-sided Westfield Matildas player Gema Simon, who has gone from the threat of never playing again to the brink of her first FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Having missed a chunk of the 2017/18 Westfield W-League season with her club side Newcastle Jets, Simon underwent surgery to her left knee last March that left her out of action for more than three months.

There was a chance she would not be able to kick a ball in anger again, and thoughts of international football and World Cups seemed a long way off.

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Gema Simon: 'I thought I'd never play again'
Gema Simon goes through her paces during training with the Westfield Matildas in Turkey

But hard work on the training ground and in the gym paid off and Simon returned to action for the Jets for 2018/19, missing just one league game all season and playing herself into the thoughts of national team coach Ante Milicic with a string of solid displays down the left.

To complete her recovery, Simon was last week named in Milicic’s 23-player squad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Speaking from the team’s pre-World Cup training camp in Antalya, Turkey, she said: “I’ve had some bad luck with injuries over the last couple of years.

“It was a bit of a surprise to be honest [to be named in the squad].

If I go back a year ago I didn’t really think I’d be playing again, so I suppose it’s paid off for all the hard work I’ve put in and the commitment to football over my career.

“I’ve started to appreciate football more and enjoy it for what it is. I’ve gone back to enjoying football and playing for fun, and it’s kind of worked for me so far.”

WATCH: Gema Simon talks to the media after the Westfield Matildas team is announced for the 2019 Women's World Cup

FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ – Group C – Australia Matches

Australia v Italy
Date: Sunday, 9 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Kick-off: 9.00pm AEST (1.00pm local time, same day)

Australia v Brazil
Date: Friday, 14 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Kick-off: 2.00am AEST (6.00pm local time, Thursday 13 June)

Jamaica v Australia
Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Kick-off: 5.00am AEST (9.00pm local time, Tuesday 18 June)

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