Australia’s prolific Sam Kerr celebrates after scoring yet another goal (Valery HACHE)
Sam Kerr says the only thing missing in her life is a major trophy with Australia — and the Chelsea forward plans to change that by winning her home World Cup.
Kerr made her Australia debut aged just 15 and has gone on to become one of the best players in women’s football.
Now 29, she is set to be the face of the World Cup when it kicks off on Thursday, her profile having soared to new heights since moving to Chelsea in 2020 and steering them to the domestic double this year.
“She is a nightmare to defend. Her energy levels are like a 12-year-old. She is infectious,” Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said recently.
“I don’t know a striker in world football who can do what she does. She’s the best.”
Kerr is Australia’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Tim Cahill last year as the nation’s most prolific among men or women with 63 goals in 121 appearances.
She has been shortlisted for the women’s Ballon d’Or and nominated for the Best FIFA Women’s Player consistently since 2017.
In 2019 Kerr became the first Australian, man or woman, to score a hat-trick at a World Cup, but winning a major trophy with her country has eluded her.
“I just want to win a major tournament with the national team,” the Australian skipper said in a documentary, “Matildas: The World at Our Feet”, released in April.
“It’s the only thing missing in my life right now… if we win the World Cup, that would just be everything.”
The tournament in Australia and New Zealand will be Kerr’s fourth — but easily her biggest — World Cup.
– ‘I struggled a lot’ –
Born to an Indian father and Australian mother, Kerr played Australian Rules as a youngster and was convinced she would one day represent her beloved West Coast Eagles, like her brother.
She switched though to football aged 12 and made her debut for the Matildas as a substitute against Italy in 2009.
Kerr admits that shifting from Australian Rules — where there was little hope of earning a living as a woman — was not easy.
“I remember I struggled a lot,” she previously said.
“I’m really thankful for my time in the AFL, but I’m also thankful I had to make the switch because there was no pathway for me at that time in AFL.”
By now a footballer, she made her debut for the W-League’s Perth Glory aged 15, spending four years at the club before moving to Sydney FC.
Known for her pace, agility and heading ability — as well as her trademark backflip goal celebrations — Kerr left for the United States in 2013.
She went first to Western New York Flash, then Sky Blue FC in New Jersey and finally Chicago Red Stars.
– ‘Mature’ –
It is since moving to Chelsea that Kerr has risen to a whole new level.
She has scored more goals than any other player in the Women’s Super League since moving there in 2020. Moreover, she has a sense for the big occasion with her goals often proving decisive.
While her onfield achievements have grabbed attention, she has also won plaudits for her work behind the scenes as an advocate for women’s sport.
Named “Young Australian of the Year” in 2018, she was hailed as “inspirational, well-grounded, professional and mature”.
Kerr has helped drive change in Australian football with a minimum wage now in place in what has become A-League Women, and players treated as professionals.
“We work hard first and foremost but we also enjoy it. We love being a part of this team and we love representing Australia,” she said.
Australia, who are among the World Cup favourites, face the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on Thursday’s opening day.