In the high-stakes world of professional football, where talent abounds, it takes an exceptional player to rise above the rest. One such player, who has taken the women’s football world by storm for years, is Sam Kerr. As the world eagerly anticipates the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, this hometown hero has consistently been at the forefront of every conversation.
Few players in football need less of an introduction than the Australian superstar. She has captured millions of hearts, minds and imaginations with her feats on the field, and as a representative of the game, may have been even more successful.
The accolades are seemingly endless for the 29-year-old, who has become more decorated than any Australian footballer, and arguably any Australian sportsperson over the course of her career.
As a 15-year-old, Kerr made her senior debut for Perth Glory, the local team in the then-W-League. Since then, it has been a meteoric rise, with a national debut following less than 12 months later, and Kerr's trajectory has continued up and up and up.
Now the captain of the Matildas, Kerr is also a key face of the World Cup, particularly on home soil. The Young Australian of the Year in 2018, Kerr has been a leader and a public figure on behalf of the sport in Australia for years now, and has helped grow the profile of the sport across the host nation.
Kerr's exploits on the field have been legendary as well, as the only female player to have won the Golden Boot on three different continents, across the W-League, the National Women's Soccer League in the US and the Women's Super League in the UK.
After starring for Perth Glory, Kerr packed up and headed to the US with stints at the Western New York Flash and the Chicago Red Stars, furthering her legend across NWSL, winning the Golden Boot three times in a row and the MVP twice (the only player to achieve either feat).
After 2019, Kerr was ready to head to the UK, and signed with Chelsea, in one of the most fruitful signings for the club in the history of the WSL. Since arriving at Kingsmeadow, Kerr has been a two-time Player of the Year at the club and has helped lead a seemingly-endless run of silverware.
Kerr has starred with goals in consecutive FA Cup finals, as the Blues secured three in a row, and celebrated with her signature backflip as she led the way in the most recent FA Cup final.
But it hasn't just been at the club level that Kerr has become a global superstar. While those accolades - particularly in Europe - have boosted her profile, she has been a reliable performer for the Matildas at the international level too.
With 63 goals to her name in 120 national appearances, she is Australia's most prolific footballer (men's or women's). Since her first international goal in 2009, Kerr has found the back of the net in major tournaments, finals, and any other time she has been needed by her team.
An 89th-minute equaliser in the quarterfinals of the Olympics in 2021 cemented Kerr's reputation as a clutch player for the Matildas, and she had a goal disallowed in the semi-final just days later, that would have kept the Matildas on level pegging with Sweden.
Kerr's reliability has been almost metronomic for the Matildas, and her incisive run has been a feature of her game for years, often playing a lone hand as a striker, supported by wings and midfielders who were happy to feed the ball into the box for her.
Now, under Tony Gustavsson, and with a squad that has settled into the game plan, Kerr is even more dangerous with extra weapons around her. With defenders now worried about Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter and Kyra Cooney-Cross, Kerr can start to try and slip defenders and capitalise on opportunities created by other players.
After years of working solo, and being forced to be the playmaker and author of attack in the box for the Matildas, Kerr can now benefit from the creativity around her and will look to find herself with more space across this upcoming World Cup.
In 2019, Kerr had five goals at the World Cup, ranked with the upper echelons of the scoring talent, including Ellen White and Megan Rapinoe. Now at home, she will look to go to another level in front of her home fans, as she looks to lead the Matildas to World Cup glory.
If she does, as the Golden Boot for the tournament, or the winning captain, Kerr will cement herself, not just as Australia's greatest footballer (which she already has), but in the handful who can claim to be Australia's greatest athlete.
A celebrity and a superstar already, the meteoric rise is not over yet.