Above: Kyah Simon after being unveiled as Tottenham Hotspur’s latest signing. Artwork: Tottenham Hotspur.
Kyah Simon’s road to the FA Women’s Super League has not been an easy one. After all, this is a player some people wrote off when she was 15 years old. Despite her setbacks though, Simon has come back time and time again, proving in the most recent Olympics that she is still a deadly attacker. Catherine Paquette argues that with her recent announced move to England, Tottenham Hotspur have signed not only a gifted attacker, but also a fighter.
Tottenham Hotspur’s new signing Kyah Simon grew up near Sydney, Australia. A two sport athlete as a child, in both soccer and rugby league, she later specialized in soccer with hopes of making the Australian women’s national team. That dream was nearly ripped away at age 15. Just prior to winning a scholarship with the New South Wales Institute of Sport, Simon broke her leg.
She did not give up though. After several months of dedication to her rehabilitation, she would go on to get the scholarship six months later. This would be quickly followed by a Matildas call up and debut, at 16 years of age. Simon would then become a player in the inaugural 2008 season of the W-League with the now defunct Central Coast Mariners.
For a footballer to face such a mix of adversity and success at such a young age, and be able to come out stronger, says a lot about her character. In her third W-League season, having moved to Sydney FC, Simon would go on to win the league’s golden boot, young player of the year and Julie Dolan awards while still a teenager. The latter is given to the best W-League player of the year. To this day she is the only player to have won this trifecta of honours in the same year.
Simon would then start a near decade long journey of playing both at home and abroad. In the W-League she would go on to don the jerseys of the Western Sydney Wanderers, Sydney FC for a second time and then Melbourne City. In total she won the W-League Championship three times and the Premiership twice.
She also spent six W-League off seasons playing in the United States, first with the Boston Breakers and then with the Houston Dash. Again, like in her youth, this decade was not one without its injury woes. She had a knee reconstruction, two operations on her shoulder, a number of soft tissue tears and an ankle injury. It was the latter combined with a hamstring strain that kept her from competing in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
This is not to say that Simon is necessarily injury prone. Part of the motivation for many Australians in making the switch from the American NWSL to European clubs in the last few years has been to minimize their playing load. The rotating door of playing the NWSL and W-League non-stop, their respective seasons normally being held in the other league’s off season, has resulted in higher rates of injuries and burnout for many Matildas.
Simon made the European jump last year, signing for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. While COVID-19, a calf injury and a subsequent ankle surgery kept her from the field for part of the year, she did go on to help her side to a second placed Eredivisie finish and a win in the Dutch KNVB Cup. It was the first trophy for the women’s PSV side which was only formed in 2012.
Simon was back to full form though during the summer. She started all six of the Matildas’ games at the Olympics and was integral in getting the Aussies to a fourth place finish, the highest ever for the nation. During the tournament she also passed 100 Australian caps, becoming the ninth Australian to do so and the first person of Indigenous descent to pass the milestone.
Having recently turned 30 years old, her two-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur will open a new chapter in an already impressive footballing career. The move though was not just another step for Simon. Speaking to tottenhamhotspur.com she said:
“I’m really excited to join Spurs, an incredible, historic club that is known around the world. Playing in the WSL has always been a dream of mine and I’m so happy to be joining such a big club. It’s a fantastic opportunity and a good challenge for me. The club is making strides on and off the pitch and I’m looking forward to meeting the team and helping them achieve success next season.”
Upon her arrival, the Spurs will get a seasoned international player who has participated in two FIFA Women’s World Cups, two Olympics, and three AFC Women’s Asian Cups. She also has extensive club experience on three continents. Her lethality in attack is well proven, as are her leadership and supporting skills.
More than anything though Tottenham are getting a fighter. In Simon they have signed a resilient determined footballer who understands how to overcome adversity and what it takes to keep being a winner.