Simmons a player for the future

This time last year, Aidan Simmons was a name not known to many football fans in Australia; having just signed from the Wanderers’ cross town rivals, Simmons was expected to be a player for the future, developing in the academy side until the time was right.

Fast forward 12 months, and he became a starting player in a Wanderers side that finished inside the top four and broke a six year finals drought.

The 20-year old made his debut off the bench against Western United in December, and appeared in a further five games as a right winger, getting one assist in the process.

However, an injury to Gabriel Cleur prompted a positional change for Simmons – in a Sydney Derby no less – and saw him make the spot in the team his own in the latter half of the 2022/23 season.

“There was an opportunity right back – I had been trained there a couple of times as well – so as a natural winger, the ability to get forward helped me in terms of attacking as a fullback. (Playing at fullback) also added another level to my game, being able to be more versatile position wise, which was good.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 21: Aidan Simmons of the Wanderers celebrates kicking a goal with Brandon Borrello of the Wanderers during the round 25 A-League Men’s match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at CommBank Stadium, on April 21, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Simmons was impressive in a 4-0 derby drubbing away from home, and he would start every game for the rest of the season in Western Sydney’s successful quest for final’s qualification.

His finest hour came in the side’s final home game of the regular season, where they trounced the Wellington Phoenix 4-0, with Simmons scoring his first ever professional goal with a brilliant solo run that saw him round the goalkeeper and finish emphatically under pressure from defenders.

Simmons made 13 appearances last season for the club, and has added two in the recent Australia Cup campaign; he feels the squad has the capabilities of building on last season’s performances.

“I think there’s a lot of potential in the squad. We went away to Gold Coast for preseason, the team bonded well there. We had a couple games in the Australia Cup, which we (did) really well. We’re looking sharp again, we’re definitely going to be pushing for titles this year.”

Aidan Simmons of the Wanderers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the A-League Men’s soccer match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Wellington Phoenix at Commbank Stadium in Sydney, Friday, April 21, 2023. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Simmons is also hoping to improve his performances this season after settling into the side and proving his worth to his teammates at the back end of last season.

“As the second season of my professional career… you feel more a part of the team. Having played games in the last season, you earn the respect of the players, and you feel more comfortable and you feel like you can do more in each game that you’re playing and just set a standard each time you step onto the field.

“I can prove what I can do this season again, and show what type of player I am on the field.”

He has also had a busy offseason, being involved with the Australia Under-20s side at the Asian Cup – where he scored a goal – as well as playing 13 times for the Wanderers’ NPL NSW side, scoring twice as they secured survival in the league for another season.

Whilst Simmons shares the team goal of chasing silverware this season, on a personal level he is seeking to continue the regular playing time he saw last season and ensuring he continues to get more minutes in the A-League.

“For me, just being able to play as much as I can this year is the most important goal as a younger player. Breaking through the team and playing consistent minutes is the most important (goal) than trying to cement my spot in the first team again.”