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Sam Kerr gifts jersey to young fan after Australia’s epic shootout win

Sam Kerr celebrates Australia penalty kicks victory. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images )

When Sam Kerr, the legendary Australian forward, entered her team’s quarter matchup against France in the 55th minute Saturday, Suncorp Stadium came unglued.

So after Australia’s emotional 7-6 penalty kicks victory, Kerr went into the crowd herself, peeling off her jersey and delivering it to a young fan, creating one of the more memorable moments of the World Cup so far.

Kerr, the Australian captain, is the all-time leading goal scorer in Australian international history and a national icon. “Sam is the best striker in the world,” teammate Emily van Egmond said in advance of the match. “There’s no other way to look at it other than that.”

Kerr suffered a calf injury before the World Cup, though, and had been limited entering the France game. She had only played 10 minutes in the tournament, entering in the 79th minute of the team’s 2-0 win over Denmark in the Round of 16.

Australian coach Tony Gustavsson decided to once again bench Kerr for the France match, a decision that elicited some criticism. When she finally entered the game, early in the first half, it was a cathartic moment for fans.

In the 61st minute, Kerr attempted a left-footed shot from the box, but it was saved. The teams were scoreless at the end of overtime, triggering penalty kicks. Kerr converted her penalty, and then Cortnee Vine did the same to seal the victory and send Australia to its first World Cup semifinal.

Kerr handed the young fan her jersey and gave her a hug, and the fan beamed, her mouth agape. It was a fitting end to an evening no Australia fan will soon forget.