Simon happy to be home after South Korea woe

It was only for just over a year but to Matt Simon, his foreign foray felt like a lifetime. The 27-year-old joined South Korean club Chunnam Dragons in January last year and, after injuries and misdiagnosis confined him to the sideline, he had only one thought upon his return to the Central Coast Mariners. ”I’m just glad to be back,” he said.
Nanjing Night Net

Simon was excited to begin his first overseas adventure. With half a season of the A-League in his legs, he hit the ground running during the Dragons’ pre-season campaign. His form in those friendlies suggested the South Korean club had made a wise investment, but his fortune turned in his first competitive match.

Simon suffered an abductor tendon injury in his groin in what was initially dismissed as just swelling. The club physiotherapists urged him to play through the discomfort, assuring him it was nothing serious.

”They didn’t actually tell me what I had, they just kept telling me what was wrong and a bit of inflammation in the groin area,” Simon said. ”Four months later, I came home and had a tear in my abductor tendon and had that operated on.”

He managed to play through the pain six times while overseas but his injury hampered his performance.

”It’s really frustrating you know, because you’re overseas and it’s the first time I’ve been overseas so you’re there at a new club, you’re trying to impress the coach, impress the club and the club’s telling you that there’s nothing wrong,” he said.

”You can feel the pain and you can’t run properly, it’s very difficult. They just want you to keep playing no matter what. It got to a point where I couldn’t keep going and I had to go home.”

Frustrated with the physiotherapists at Chunnam, Simon seized on an opportunity to go meet his former teammates when the Mariners played Suwon Bluewings in the Asian Champions League. He drove four hours to meet the club and even sought the advice of their physio, Andrew Nealon.

”It is very different over there. They’re [Chunnam] all about what they can get out of players and getting you on the park because they just want you to play games. They were saying that there’s nothing wrong and I just knew that there was something wrong,” Simon said.

After being granted a release, Simon pounced on the chance to work with Graham Arnold again.

”That was a big part of why I wanted to be a back at the Mariners. My game excels under Arnie and he knows how I work,” Simon said. ”That was a big part of my decision, why I wanted to be back at the club. He’s one of the best coaches in the league and he’s proven right now with a championship under his belt and you look at his win-loss ratio … it’s pretty impressive.”

Simon returned to Australia two months ago and has spent the past three weeks training with the Mariners. He’s been told he is over the worst of his injury woes and is eager to make up for lost time.

In the 17 months since Simon departed Bluetongue Stadium, the Mariners have become A-League champions. They’ve relocated from training at suburban fields to an academy unrivalled in Australian football. He returns to a club that is being watched by European scouts and a strike force that boasts some of the best marksmen in the league. Simon is not expecting automatic selection but is familiar with the qualities that will give him the nod.

”You’ve got to be doing well in training and be fit. I’m just happy to be back on the coast,” he said.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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