Twelve months ago, Gema Simon was not even playing.
On Sunday night in France, the Newcastle 28-year-old could feature in her first Women's World Cup appearance when the Matildas open their 2019 campaign against Italy.
Whether she steps onto the pitch at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes or not, the resilient Simon plans to soak up every second of an experience always dreamed about but one year ago seemed an impossibility.
"I honestly would've said you're dreaming," Simon told the Newcastle Herald from France on Friday.
"This time last year I wasn't back playing. I was still having some complications with my knee and I was considering maybe not even playing again.
"I'd worked really hard to try to get back and then the surgeon gave me a heads up that I might not be able to. So if someone said to me 12 months ago that I would be in this position then I would not have believed them."
Simon and Newcastle Jets co-captain Emily van Egmond are part of Ante Milicic's 23-player squad in France.
Both have plenty of football experience but their journeys to France, and possibly Australia's best ever chance of being crowned world champions, have taken different paths.
This will be 25-year-old van Egmond's third World Cup.
Van Egmond, an industrious midfielder currently playing for Orlando Pride in the United States, made her World Cup debut in 2011 in Germany, scoring a goal in a 3-2 win over Equatorial Guinea. She also played at the 2015 instalment in Canada and has 86 caps for her country.
The Matildas have bowed out in the quarter-finals of the past three World Cups but showed in winning the 2017 Tournament of Nations they are capable of beating the best teams in the world.
It is an exciting time be part of the action and Simon, who has battled injuries in her career, is grateful to be there.
"I always wanted to be [at a World Cup]," Simon said. "Growing up I honestly didn't think that I would get to this point.
"It was something I had always worked towards but with all the setbacks and whatnot I wasn't sure if it was going to be a reality or something that I could achieve and I thought that maybe it was too late."
After knee surgery in May of last year, Simon signed with South Wallsend for the latter stages of their 2018 Herald Women's Premier League campaign then had her most enjoyable W-League season for a long time.
In November, she was recalled to the Matildas after a 12-month absence in place of injured Jets teammate Larissa Crummer and took the field in front of family and friends at McDonald Jones Stadium against Chile.
Despite a solid performance in the green and gold, Simon insisted the Jets and W-League remained her immediate focus.
"I guess that last year I've just been playing football and enjoying it and playing just purely for the love of the game and not to make teams," Simon said.
"When I was playing for Newcastle last season I got asked about the national team in a lot of my interviews. I always said that my focus was on what I was doing at the time and whatever happened afterwards would be a bonus. If I got called back into the national team or if I didn't then I'm enjoying my football and I'm happy with what I was doing."
Once the Jets' W-League season finished, only then did her focus return to the national team. And, as the World Cup drew closer, Simon worked harder than ever to give herself every chance of making the final cut.
The Matildas completed their World Cup preparations with a training session in France on Saturday and on Sunday will find out if they have been named in the squad for the clash with Italy.
"Mentally I feel really good," Simon said. "It's been a really good preparation. I don't think I've had a better prep for anything to be honest.
"We worked really really hard back in Sydney and we got smashed but it was all worth it now. I feel like I'm really prepared and really looking forward to it.
"If I get some minutes at the World Cup then it will be incredible and if I don't then I just hope to be able to play my role in the team whatever that may be.
"The World Cup is one of the biggest things in football. It's so exciting to watch and it's incredible that I get to be a part of it."
The Matildas-Italy match kicks off at 9pm and will be televised on SBS.
Australia are ranked No.6 in the world and Italy 15.