Sam Kerr is a once-in-a-generation talent, reaching the heights of soccer in Australia and abroad. At 28 years old, Kerr is already considered to be one of the best strikers to play the sport, shattering records for both club and country.
Here’s everything you need to know about one of the game’s greatest players.
It all started for Kerr in Fremantle, Australia, a port city in the Perth metropolitan area. She was born to a family of athletes on September 10, 1993: Kerr’s brother and father both were Australia rules footballers, and her uncle was a horse jokey. Introduced to AFL at an early age, Kerr immediately fell in love with the sport. There were no girls league when she was growing up in Australia, so Kerr played with the boys. Kerr considered footy her first love, with soccer taking a backseat.
Eventually, playing Australian football with boys got too rough, and Kerr was forced into soccer by her family at 12 years old. Despite her limited interest in the sport, the Kerr would debut for the Australian women’s national soccer team only three years later.
“I am very fortunate to have a lot of athleticism,” Kerr old Kelly O’Hara on the Just Women’s Sports podcast, explaining her prodigious rise in the sport.
Her first cap with the Matildas came when Kerr was just 15 years old, and was a bit of a surprise for the Australian star. Thinking she would be on the bench for the game, Kerr told her family not to come to the match, something she says she now regrets.
“I never realized how big the moment was and I always say if I could redo one part of my career, it would be my first cap,” Kerr told Sandra Sully in a 2021 10 News First interview.
Luckily for Kerr, she would have plenty more opportunities to take the pitch for her country, celebrating 100 caps and 48 goals with the Matildas in 2021.
Kerr’s international career got off to a dream start, participating in her first major tournament at 16, a year after her debut. The 2010 Asian Cup served as the young star’s introduction to the world stage, and she scored in the team’s final match to help Australia clinch the Cup.
At 17-years old, Kerr went to her first World Cup, joining seven other players under 20-years-old on the 2011 Australian roster. The Matildas advanced out of the competition’s group stage but fell to Sweden in the knockout round, ending the team’s World Cup run.
Kerr’s career hit a snag leading up to the 2015 World Cup, suffering a knee injury that required surgery just before the tournament. On top of coming off an injury, Kerr was also transitioning from the wing to the No. 9 position, a role she has since mastered. The Matildas managed to survive what was deemed the “group of death,” which included the United States, Sweden, and Nigeria, and they even downed Brazil in their first knockout game. Kerr and the Matildas, however, were sent packing by Japan in the quarterfinals.
The Australian striker’s first World Cup goal wouldn’t come until the 2019 World Cup, in the team’s group-stage match against Italy. The trend continued when Kerr scored four goals against Jamaica, becoming the first Australian player, male or female, to record a hat trick at the World Cup. Norway ultimately knocked the Matildas out in the first round of elimination. Still, Kerr came in second among goals scored during the tournament with five, behind Ellen White, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, who all notched six.
Kerr’s 2020 Olympics marked another prolific international tournament, leading Australia to the bronze-medal match against the United States. With six goals, the Australian striker tied Great Britain’s Ellen White and Zambia’s Barbra Banda for second on the scorers’ list. Kerr’s most-exciting finish came in the Matildas’ quarterfinal against Great Britain when the 28-year-scored a late-game brace to send her team to the semifinals.
Notching her 48th international goal in the bronze-medal loss against the USWNT, Kerr dethroned Lisa De Vanna as Australia’s all-time top scorer.
SAM KERR! ⚽️🇦🇺Australia's superstar has her penalty saved but she puts in the rebound for her first career #FIFAWWC goal. pic.twitter.com/0JjrTqlR33— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 9, 2019
SAM KERR! ⚽️🇦🇺Australia's superstar has her penalty saved but she puts in the rebound for her first career #FIFAWWC goal. pic.twitter.com/0JjrTqlR33
Kerr’s club career is just as, if arguably not more, successful than her international career with the Australian national team. One of the most cited and impressive Kerr-stats is that she has won the Golden Boot award in three different leagues. The star striker first captured the top honor in the W-League (which has since re-branded as the A-League) in 2017. She repeated the feat in 2018. In the NWSL, she was the league’s stop scorer three years running: 2017, 2018 and 2019, and last season she led the FA WSL in goals scored while playing for Chelsea.
Kerr first entered the NWSL at just 18 years old in 2013, joining the Western New York Flash alongside American superstars Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach. The Australian’s breakout season, however, came in 2017 with Sky Blue FC after two years with the club. During the 2017 campaign, Kerr scored a record-breaking 17 goals, earning her the Golden Boot and MVP awards. The year also included an instant-classic match, with Kerr notching four goals in one half to overcome a 3-0 deficit to defeat Seattle Reign 5-4. Kerr attributes her success that year to being moved to the No. 9 role on the pitch.
“I felt like I found my position,” Kerr told O’Hara. “I found where I was playing.”
Her success continued when she moved to the Chicago Red Stars in 2018, topping her previous mark when she scored a NWSL-record 18 goals on the season to clinch her second MVP award.
At 26 years old, Kerr left the NWSL, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with Chelsea in 2019, reportedly totaling over $1 million. Critics were quick to question whether Kerr’s talent would translate to the Women’s Super League, but she quickly shut those questions down. After a shortened season due to COVID, Kerr led the Blues with 21 goals in 22 games during the 2020-2021 campaign. Her productive year earned her another Golden Boot award and helped Chelsea to the league title. The team also appeared in the Champions League final, falling to Barcelona in the title match.
In the 2021-2022 season, Kerr signed a two-year contract extension, keeping her with the Blues until 2024. Adding to her growing trophy case, Kerr also captured an FA Cup title with Chelsea in December, scoring a brace against Arsenal for the 3-0 victory.
Sam Kerr with an outrageous chip to seal the FA Cup for Chelsea 🥶(via @VitalityWFACup)pic.twitter.com/Nmrpbjsn0n— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 5, 2021
Sam Kerr with an outrageous chip to seal the FA Cup for Chelsea 🥶(via @VitalityWFACup)pic.twitter.com/Nmrpbjsn0n
Kerr is on pace to capture yet another Golden Boot award with Chelsea in the hunt for the WSL title. Internationally, Kerr is expected to captain the Australian National Team as they gear up to host the 2023 World Cup being jointly hosted by Australia and England.