STRIKER Matt Simon has spurned the advances of other interested clubs and agreed a new two-year contract with Lawrie McKinna's Central Coast Mariners.
"We couldn't be happier to have Matt on board for the next two Hyundai A-League seasons," said Mariners executive chairman Lyall Gorman. "It's the perfect fairytale, a plasterer playing in the local premier league one day, to representing his country the next.
"He's played a huge role in helping the club achieve what it has so far, and we look forward to Matt having another successful two A-League campaigns with us."
Simon was plucked out of the local league by Lawrie McKinna during season two of the A-League, and he went on to be the club's leading goalscorer throughout the premiership winning 2007/08 season. He earned himself two full international caps for the Socceroos in the process, against Indonesia and Kuwait.
He again spearheaded the club's successful charge to the finals series last year and has been rewarded with a new deal, which will keep him at Bluetongue Stadium until the end of the 2011/12 season.
"I had my eye on Matty for quite a while when he was playing for East Gosford, and his skill level, fitness and workrate has improved out of sight since he became part of our setup," said McKinna.
"He has proven himself to be among the top strikers playing in the A-League, and now he has got negotiations out of the way, he can concentrate on doing what he does best, and that's scoring goals.
"Obviously I want to keep the nucleus of this squad together, we have huge potential, and Matt is certainly a big part of our future."
Despite interest from several other (unnamed) clubs, Simon says he's delighted to be able to remain at his hometown club.
"Negotiations have been going on for a while now so its good to get it out of the way and just concentrate on playing some good football now," said Simon.
"Securing my future for a couple more years now, and I'm very happy at the club, so I'm now just looking forward to knuckling down and scoring some more goals.
"It's happened so fast. I'm very happy with my progress and I still believe I've got a lot more to learn, so hopefully I can do that over the next couple of years and progress even further."
The young forward revealed that there were other suitors but staying with his home club felt right.
He added: "There was a little bit of interest around, but it's a great bunch of boys here at the club and I've just bought a house on the Coast so there was a bit of thinking to do, but I think it's the right decision in the end.
"Negotiations were going on for quite some time and it's always in the back of your head, so it's good to get it out of the way now and I know my future is secure.
"I'll just concentrate on playing good football and he (Australian coach Pim Verbeek) has shown in the past that if you are doing well he is willing to look at the Australian based boys. I'll just concentrate on doing well for the Mariners and we'll see what happens in the future."
Simon will line up against North Queensland Fury on Sunday. Kick-off is at 3pm, and is part of a double header, which sees the Central Coast Mariners Westfield W-League team take on Adelaide United at 12.15pm. Gates open at noon.