Mariners striker Simon better for Beijing experience

Just three years ago, the Sydney native was cutting his teeth for local side Central Coast Lightning but his improvement has been so dramatic that Socceroo coach Pim Verbeek included him in the World Cup qualifying squad who took on Iraq a few months ago.

Simon was also involved in the Qantas Olyroos U23s squad for much of the lead-up to Beijing but was then left out of the Olympics squad, only to be replaced for the final match because of an injury to a key player.

When he made his return on home soil, it was with immediate impact as he scored in the Mariner's season opener against the Newcastle Jets just over a week ago.

Speaking on the club's official website, Simon believes his experience with the Olyroos has paid off.

"I'm absolutely loving being back home, it was great to get hat first goal out of the way and now I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

"I played a few games overseas in the lead up to the Olympic Games and going to the Olympics Games as an alternate player was pretty special but also hard in that I was training and knowing that I wasn't going to play, but actually getting a call up for the last game was pretty special.

"I definitely think that during the last season with the Mariners I stepped up a fair bit - I've learned heaps here and when I went away with the Qantas Under 23s I learned even more.

"I think I have improved a lot and I think I can improve a lot more - I'm looking forward to this year and getting some more goals."

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