GEMA Simon wasn't sure if she would be able to play soccer again this time last year.
With next to no cartilage in her left knee and arthritis in the joint, her chances of kicking a ball, let alone playing international football, were in doubt.
After knee surgery and an ITB (iliotibial band) release last March, Simon returned to the field in July. With every session and every game the 29-year-old's determination and desire grew.
On Tuesday, the left back and Jets co-captain was named in the Matildas squad for the FIFA women's World Cup in France starting next month.
Joining Simon in France will be Jets teammate Emily van Egmond, who will be playing at her third World Cup at the age of 25.
"A year ago, I had knee surgery and the surgeon said he wasn't sure if I would be able to play again," Simon said after her selection. "It is still really surreal. I don't think it is going to really hit me until we leave. I was stoked to be able to call my family and say 'I'm going'."
Recalled to the national set up last November, Simon has put everything on hold to realise her dream. She quit her job as a teacher's aide two months ago to get fit and give herself "the best chance" of making the squad.
As well commuting daily to Sydney to train with a high performance squad, Simon has been playing in the Herald Women's Premier League for South Wallsend.
"The past few weeks we have been working so hard. It is rewarding to receive the call," Simon said. "It's not just for me but my family and everything they have sacrificed for me throughout my entire career."
Simon, whose mother, Noma Gordon, died in 2015, couldn't wait to share the news with her loved ones.
"I told my partner first, then did a group chat with my dad, my sister and my brother so they couldn't say I was playing favourites," she said.
Van Egmond made her World Cup debut in 2011, scoring a goal in a 3-2 win over Equatorial Guinea and has since earned 85 caps. She is currently playing for the Orlando Pride in the US.
The Matildas fly out to Turkey on the weekend for a 10-day training camp in Antalya, where the Socceroos were based before the 2018 World Cup, before a friendly against The Netherlands in Eindhoven on June 1.
Australia, who ranked No.6 in the world, open their group stage against Italy in Valenciennes on June 9 and then meet Brazil (June 13) and Jamaica (June 18).