9th August 2018 |First Team News | Views

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The Ashford United media team are pleased to bring you Nuts & Bolts supporters a new interview with another of Gary Alexander’s summer signings. This time it’s the turn of centre half Antonio Simeone to come under the spot light.

First things first Antonio… Welcome to Ashford United and your new home at Homelands Park.

Last season you played for Whyteleafe, and for Molesey. Two clubs that had very different seasons from each other, Whyteleafe just missing out on the playoffs and Molesey struggling near the bottom along with us. How do you feel your personal season went? How many times did you play against Ashford United (if at all)? And if you did line up against us, what did you think of our support?

“Thanks for the welcome Neil! Really happy to be here. Last season for me was about getting back to my best. Season 16-17 I tore my MCL at the back end of September which saw me miss pretty much the rest of the season, which also meant I missed out on winning the Ryman south with Tooting and Mitcham. Last season was about getting fully fit and back to a higher standard. The manager at Molesey gave me that opportunity, and unfortunately the season for them wasn’t a successful one. My ambition as a player is always to be competitive, so when Whyteleafe approached me it was impossible to turn it down. I felt that I had met my target for the season. I played against Ashford in the earlier part of last season with Molesey. It was impressive to see such a crowd at a game between 17th and 18th in the league, who didn’t stop signing for 90 minutes! It’s definitely one of the attractions of playing for Ashford United!”

When Gary Alexander first approached you about coming to Ashford United, what was your first thoughts knowing the struggles we had on the field last season?

“I knew that if Gary and John are at a club, something is going to happen. Seeing and playing against Gary’s sides at Greenwich, I knew what the standards were, and to be approached by Gary for me, was both an honour and a compliment. I knew that being at Ashford with this management team would be exciting. Regardless of what happened last season, the club itself have the foundations set correctly to allow this club to achieve. It’s been a great 6 weeks getting to know everyone here.”

Could you tell us a little about your career in football so far please? Who you’ve played for, highlights, disappointments and your best moment in football?

“I’ve had a ‘nearly’ type of career so far. Starting off at Carshalton Athletic as an 18yr old, then moving to Godalming Town, where I had 3 seasons there with two Ryman South playoff seasons, which we got beat by Bognor Regis and then Biggleswade the year after. From there, I moved to Tooting and Mitcham and spent 3 seasons there where we won the London cup in 15-16 . Unfortunately, the MCL tear meant I missed out on winning the league, but all it’s done is driven me to finally pick up a league winners medal.
Best moment – playing with Luis Morrison from Love island Series 1. He’s a really cool guy and if you use code ‘LUIS50’, you’ll get 50% off http://BooHoo.com.”

Best ground you’ve played at?

“AFC wimbledon & Woking FC.”

‘Simeone’ You have a famous surname in football! Any relation to Diego? (It had to be asked! haha)

“Unfortunately not, it would be lovely to be living in Madrid. Although, I do have some family who live in South America, so there could be some family lineage (I hope).”

What name do you normally get addressed by from others, (Not by opposition fans, it’s a family website! Haha) which do you prefer to be called, and do you have a nickname?

“Non league football is funny. At home and with family, I’m Antonio. But in the football scene – Simmo. Although Gary is the only manager I’ve had that actually calls me Antonio. The lads call me Simmo.”

Where across the back line do you prefer to play, feel that you’re most effective and have your best games?

“Centre Back – left side. Being left footed, I feel at my most comfortable on the left of the two centre backs. But you’ll be surprised – the right foot does come out!”

Do you like to get forward for set pieces and do you score many?

“I think there’s been 3/4 seasons where I have scored around 15 per season, although a few of those are from set pieces. Free kicks and penalties are something I’ve been in charge of in my time at other clubs.
Last year I walked away with 11, which for a centre back, I’m happy with!”

Obviously football isn’t your only line of work, would you mind telling us what your other profession is please and also where you live?

“I’m a Secondary School PE Teacher, age range from 11-18yr olds for a school in Tooting, London.
I’m also a Level 3 Personal Trainer which is something I do more as a hobby now, rather than a job.
I live just outside of London in Surrey. Think of Kingston – around that area.”

There’s a few lads in our squad that have played together previously at other clubs, is this the same for you?

“I have played against a lot of the boys over the years. We’ve had our battles, however the only player that I had played with is Lanre [Azeez] at Whyteleafe last season, who has recently just signed for the club which is a massive boost to our promotion push.”

I know our vocal section of our fantastic fans (the shouty boys) are already busy trying to come up with new songs for everyone in the squad, I believe they’re working on a song for you with an Italian theme, have you ever had your own song sang by supporters? Any preference for yourself?

I’ve never had a song specifically made, it’s usually just been a chorus of my surname sung when coming up for corners or scoring. However I’m really looking forward to hearing what the boys come up with the season. I’m sure my family will be impressed with the Italian theme!

What would be your ideal Sunday during the season?

“My ideal Sunday is going for brunch with the Fiancée, seeing family or catching up on any box sets I’m behind with. then getting in a light gym session to help with the recovery. I’m 29 now, So if I want to continue playing for another 5/6 years, I have to look after myself as much as possible.”

After last seasons fourth bottom finish for Ashford United, and the tough season we had, anything above fourth bottom will be an obvious improvement. What’re your thoughts on how you think the squad will do this coming season?

“With the squad, Management and ambition we have, we’ve set a target of promotion. There is no reason why we can’t achieve that goal. Small targets will help us get there, both team and individual. This is going to be an exciting season.”

Many of the supporters here at Ashford United really do like to interact with the players and get to know them. I believe it helps to create a real bond between all at the club and makes us stronger, winning, drawing and losing together as a club on and off the field. The fans have two giant flags with the slogan ‘UNITED WE STAND… written across them as a show of togetherness. What’s your thoughts on the importance of unity between fans, players, management and board?

“I see it as a family. We all win together. We all lose together. Regardless, we will all be in the bar at the end of the game buzzing off the three points, or sulking after losing. The fans, board and management are as important, if not more, than the players. Without them, we can’t do our jobs.”

Thank you ‘Simmo’ for giving up your time to allow me to interview you today. Our supporters enjoy reading about the lads they’ll be backing week in week out on the pitch. Everyone at the club wish you all the best for the new season and hope you enjoy your time spent with us here at Ashford United. Is there anything you’d like to say to our supporters as the season approaches rapidly?

“I’m really looking forward to playing for Ashford and meeting you all. Stick with us throughout, and we will have a great 38 weeks together. I also have a thing about having a Diet Coke after a game, so first fan who gets me one becomes my favourite! Grazie Mille! Come on you Nuts & Bolts!”