High-flying Kerr hits rarefied air

  • Sam Kerr is the first Australian to be nominated for The Best

  • Kerr hails from a famous sporting family

  • Kerr said she “learnt a lot” off reigning Women’s Player of the Year Carli Lloyd

Sam Kerr has always been a bit special.

At 15, she became the youngest Australian female international footballer for well over a decade. A few months prior, the then high school student had become the youngest player to debut and score in the Australian W-League.

Such was Kerr’s meteoric rise, few knew the name of the swaggering, fearless teenager when she first donned national team colours. Most referred to her as ‘Daniel Kerr’s sister’, name-checking her older brother, a high-profile Australian Rules football star.

But Sam Kerr started carving out her own niche, and the landmark achievements have been coming ever since for this dynamic attacker.

Kerr completed her most recent W-League campaign as the competition’s player of the year, but it is in the rarefied air of USA’s NWSL where the Aussie has really impressed. Now in her fifth NWSL season, Kerr sits atop the league’s all-time goalscoring list. Her 16-goal haul to date in 2017 has also equalled Kim Little's record single-season tally.

With that kind of form it is little wonder that Kerr was shortlisted for this year’s The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award – the first Australian to be nominated for an individual FIFA global award. Kerr, and the Matildas, are suddenly hugely prominent in the Australian sporting zeitgeist.

“Those kind of things can be hit or miss, and although a few people had mentioned it to me I wasn’t getting too caught up in the idea, and it was a nice surprise,” Kerr told FIFA.com about her mindset prior to the awards shortlist being announced. “It is a massive honour of course.”

Kerr has previously played alongside two of her fellow The Best nominees, having suited up with reigning world player of the year Carli Lloyd at Western New York Flash, as well as Jodie Taylor when the England striker featured for Sydney FC.

“I really enjoyed playing with Carli at Flash. She took me under her wing and I’m still good friends with her, and we chat all the time. I learnt a lot off Carli in terms of her training regime, that includes taking care of your body.”

Kerr, however, revealed injury nearly ended her career. Eight months out with a knee injury was followed by a further eight-month absence with a foot injury.

“I always say the foot injury not only changed my football career, but changed my life. I nearly gave up on the game. Injuries like that have forced me to become a better professional.”

From the beach to the bright lights Kerr grew up on the beach in sleepy Fremantle on the Western Australia coast, where playing sport was a way of life.

A dazzling turn of pace, a remarkable vertical leap and innate game sense marks out Kerr as a danger to any defence. Then there is her back-flipping goal celebration which offers further tangible evidence of a rare natural athletic ability, just in case there was any doubt.

“I had no choice but to pick up sport. I played every sport under the sun when I was kid. It sounds bad, but if you are not good at sport in our family you would get a little bit bullied,” laughs Kerr.

When it comes to pinpointing her favourite male player, Kerr is unhesitating in her answer: Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I just love him, he is a goalscorer, entertaining and a game-winner. I strive to be like him in being someone your team-mates can always rely on. I feel I am a little bit like him, being a bit of a fire-cracker.”

So has Kerr thought about the possibility of sharing the red carpet with the Portugal and Real Madrid star next month in London? “I would be lying if I said no,” said Kerr with a cheeky chuckle.

Regardless of whether a trip to London next month is forthcoming, the dynamics in the Kerr household have surely now changed leaving Daniel Kerr as ‘Sam Kerr’s brother’.