Gema Simon “started to appreciate football more” on the road to Australia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
The Newcastle Jets defender missed a chunk of the 2017/18 W-League season after undergoing surgery on her left knee.
The injury kept her out of action for more than three months and there was a chance she would not play again.
However, Simon bounced back to gain selection in the Matildas 23-player squad for the prestigious tournament in France, which kicks off tomorrow (Friday 7 June).
While her selection came as “a bit of a surprise”, she was quick to acknowledge the role of her support network.
“I’ve had some bad luck with injuries… if I go back a year ago, I didn’t really think I’d be playing again to be honest,” Simon says.
“I suppose it paid off for all the hard work I’ve put and my commitment to football over my career.
“I’ve got a good group behind me and my family’s always been really supportive, they’ve always believed in me.
“I think I’ve just kind of started to appreciate more and enjoy it for what it is.”
Simon, who has made 11 appearances for the Matildas, will play in her first World Cup and lines up alongside fellow Newcastle representative Emily van Egmond.
The Matildas are in Group C, alongside powerhouses Brazil, as well as Italy, and Jamaica.
Australia starts its campaign against the Italians on Sunday 9 June in Valenciennes. Kick-off is 9pm AEST.
The other two pool matches against Brazil and Jamaica will be played on Friday 14 June and Wednesday 19 June.