Matt Simon K-League bound

Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon is set to try his fortunes in Asia, after signing a three-year with Korean K-League outfit Chunnam Dragons.

Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon is set to try his fortunes in Asia, after signing a three-year with Korean K-League outfit Chunnam Dragons.

Simon, who has made more than 100 Hyundai League appearances for the Mariners, will fly to South Korea next week to link with his new teammates ahead of the forthcoming K-League season.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Simon will play his final game for the Mariners against Melbourne Victory on January 4.

Although saddened to be leaving his hometown club, Simon, an East Gosford Rams junior, admitted the opportunity to play abroad combined with the Dragons- offer was simply too good to refuse.

“It has always been a goal of mine to play overseas and this is an opportunity for me to take the next step in my career,” Simon said.

“I-ve had a lot of great memories at the Mariners. I-ve loved playing for the Club and I-ve loved playing for the fans.”

“Since the start of the A-League the fans have been great to me and I can-t thank them enough. Hopefully I-ll get to play for them again when my time overseas comes to an end.”

A former plasterer, Simon joined the Mariners in 2006 from the Central Coast Lightning. Given the opportunity to fulfil his dream of playing football for a living by then Central Coast mentor Lawrie McKinna, it-s fair to say the hardworking striker hasn-t looked back.

The striker was selected for the 2008 Beijing Australian Olympic squad by current Mariners boss Graham Arnold. Simon-s form with Central Coast was also acknowledged with two Qantas Socceroos appearances in early 2009.

“I-m forever grateful to Lawrie McKinna and the Mariners for giving me the chance to make it as a professional footballer,” he said.

“Thankfully the Club was able to get ‘Arnie- (Graham Arnold) in to replace Lawrie when he moved into a different role. He knows how each player ticks individually and he-s improved me not only as a player but mentally as well.”

“Definitely my highlight was winning the Premiership with the boys in season three, but also last season. We didn-t go all the way but we did tremendously and it was fantastic to be a part of.”

Simon-s transfer to Chunnam Dragons - a team based in the city of Gwangyang - highlights the Mariners- intent to provide a pathway for young, ambitious Australian footballers to achieve their goals, while contributing to the on-going success of the club.

Arnold admitted Simon's presence would be missed both on and off the pitch, he believes his side has the depth to cover Simon-s absence.

“It-s a great reward for a great bloke, a great clubman and a fantastic footballer for the Mariners,” Arnold said.

“Matty was coming off contract and he-s received a great offer from Korea. It-s a wonderful opportunity for him”.

“It-s the A-League, these things happen where players leave mid-term. But it won-t be too much of a distraction because we-ve got a lot of depth and it opens up a great opportunity for other players to step up to the mark,” he said.