The pieces of the puzzle that put Kerr among the best in the world




While Kerr is an exceptional ballhead, it’s his speed that is perhaps his most dangerous attacking attribute. From a young age, Kerr was always quick. However, it was not just his pace that gave him so much potential, but the dynamism and power of his acceleration.

“Even at that age she was vibrant, that’s the first thing that stood out,†Sermanni said. “She always had this rhythm. It was to the rhythm of power. Some players are pretty quick, but they don’t look that fast – they kind of slide. Sam had real power, she reminded me of a young Frank Farina.

This is part of his weaponry that has not evaporated with age. On the contrary, she has taken her to another level since moving to England in 2019. Remaining just as quick but now more powerful, she has added more intelligence to her movement which makes her nearly impossible to score.

Way to the top

Few players have worked as hard to break through to the pro level as those of the Kerr generation. Without a doubt, it was one of the brightest in Australia. Her junior class included Emily van Egmond and Caitlin Foord – some of the first names on the Matildas team roster today.

In less than two years, all three were fully-selected senior national team players. Sermanni was the coach who found the trio. Kerr came first, playing for Australia at the age of 15 in 2009. It was a role she balanced with two junior national teams, two clubs and an institute.

“At that point, they were playing in the W-League, U-17s, U-20s and the senior squad,†Sermanni said. “They were like full-time footballers even at that age of 15, 16. 17. This base, this education and these games that they had was huge for their development.”

Work ethic

Kerr has worked extremely hard to get to where she is. However, goals weren’t always in abundance for her. Originally deployed as a winger, she began her career as a goalie rather than a goal scorer. She had an instinctive gift for scoring, but hadn’t been trained as a top striker. When she made the transition to become a center-forward, under Despotovsky at Perth Glory in 2015, she took on the new post like a duck in the water.

“She wants to work extremely hard to improve her game in all aspects,†he said. “We changed her position from wing to attacker when she moved to Perth. The simple reason was I thought she wasn’t used enough as a winger because she was so far from the goal, and why would you limit such a footballer to being on the wing rather than being a number nine and be close to the goal?

She worked tirelessly to improve her finish. She has studied positional play intensely and has always strived to improve.

Sam Kerr scores a powerful goal for the Matildas against China in 2017.Credit:Fox sports

“The biggest learning from me about her is that while she’s accomplished all of these things and does all that she does for the club and the country, there is this inner motivation, which few people perhaps see. , to be better, “said Matildas assistant coach Mel Andreatta. “She always thinks about football, not just the team, but her own performances and how she can improve.”


With this relentless desire to improve, Kerr’s skills sharpened. She always had a great first touch and great technique, but until it was applied to her finish, the task of getting her from winger to attacker would have been fruitless. This is why Despotovski has focused heavily on improving his finish on both feet, distance and short distance while training him in Perth.

“We exhibited some weakness in his game which was his finish. Not being a striker, we had to work on that and that was the five-year period she was playing with us, â€Despotovski said. “Now she hits the ball with the left and the right just as well. Now what I saw this weekend in the FA Cup, that goal she scored shook the goalkeeper – who had never been present in her game. “

Today, Kerr can score from a distance. She also has the instinct of the poacher. She’s deadly on the counter and a menace in the air.

“Look at these two FA Cup final arrivals – at full speed she runs towards goal, sees the keeper caught in no man’s land and drinks them,” said Andreatta. “What I know about Sam is that she doesn’t hesitate to improve. You will often see her at the end of a national team session working on different ways of finishing, different techniques from different areas. Again, it has to do with that inner motivation and that determination to be the best footballer – possibly in the world. “

Football intelligence

However, all the ball skills in the world are useless unless a player can position themselves to score and perform runs at the right time. Kerr always had the pace and power to do just that, but it wasn’t until she moved to England to join Chelsea in 2019 that she really got a handle on her movement and mobility.


According to Sermanni, in his early years, Kerr was “a little fickle, like all young players are.” Today, it operates at a higher level, for longer periods.

Looking at it from a distance, the most important change Sermanni sees is in his decision making and movement. “Since moving to England she has taken her game to another level where she is an absolutely accomplished player,” he said. “Now his footballing IQ, knowledge and decision making are exceptional. “

According to Andreatta, this drastic improvement in his movement off the ball and his judicious decision making in possession of the ball is a testament to Kerr’s dedication and thirst to improve.

“Her knowledge and awareness of space, of the adversaries that surround her in that space and the way she uses it has taken to another level,†she said. “It is through her who watches the game, this thirst to be even better, and to train and play daily against the best footballers in the world … against the best, you have even less time to make decisions . “


“You play football with your head and your legs there to help you” – the great Dutchman Johan Cruyff.

The only thing more memorable than some of the wonderful goals Kerr has scored is the smile on his face after each of them. Sometimes it is accompanied by a backflip.

Even at 28, Kerr plays with the exuberance of a kid running on a Saturday morning. This is part of its charm. In an age of highly professionalized sport where players run everything from precarious contracts to endorsements, fan engagements, media scrutiny, bombardment of social media and pressure from coaches, clubs and the country, Kerr manages to never lose sight of the joy of the game.

“From the start, it was obvious that she had the raw materials, and it was obvious that she had the confidence and attitude to deal with whatever she needed. She had all the ingredients, â€Sermanni said.

Sam Kerr scores after a counterattack.Credit:NWSL

The former Matildas boss remembers trips away from the national team where multiple teams stayed at the same hotel. Hours after arriving, Kerr reportedly chatted with players from each team. “She would just be friends with them all.” She was like a magnet for the players, whether it was Japan, Vietnam or South Korea, â€he said.

It was part of his carefree personality. Jovial, fun and happy – often masking an extremely competitive and professional streak. “She just had an attitude – people talk about playing with a smile on their face, she always has. When you won she was happy, â€Sermanni said.

“She was a classic player where she played with passion and determination, but she always plays with pleasure and a smile and that has been evident throughout her career.”


For all his obvious talents, few have ever presented Kerr as a future Matildas captain. In her early years, she was a lovable larrikin. In many ways, it still is. She doesn’t have the harsh nose of the archetypal captains nor the harsh, boisterous demeanor. Instead, it was his ardent desire for constant improvement that earned him the Matildas armband.

Former Australian coach Ante Milicic saw a leader in Kerr during his first team meeting in 2019. Kerr was first in the room, sat front and center, and was the most engaged. She backed him up with impressive performances on the training ground to show how she is a leader by example.

“In a lot of ways she really reminds me of Tim Cahill, to be perfectly honest. She is confident, she has this conviction, she carries the team and her work ethic and her discipline and the way she managed herself from the very first team meeting, â€said Milicic to Herald and Age at the time. “She leads by her actions on the ground. There are a few examples of what I’ve seen before meeting her, meeting the team and working with her the last few days, that was just confirmation for me.


Every now and then, Despotovski sends a message to Kerr to congratulate her on her latest result, goal or performance. He may have played a part in his progress, but does not take credit for his development.

He does, however, give a wry smile when he reminds her of his prediction five years ago when he moved it from the wing to the center-forward.

“I had an opinion in 2016, I said if Sam Kerr started scoring more goals she would be the best player in the world,” he said. “Sam thought I was crazy – she laughed at me.”

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