Kerr earned her first senior international cap in 2009 at the age of 15 and has since represented Australia at the 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022AFC Women's Asian Cup tournaments, the 2011, 2015, and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cups, and the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics. During the 2019 World Cup, she became the first Australian player (male or female) to score a hat trick at a World Cup tournament. In 2021, she captained the team to their historic first ever semi-final of a major tournament during the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, resulting in their best ever 4th-place finish.
Kerr is known for her "speed, skill, tenacity," and backflip goal celebrations, and is widely considered one of the best female footballers, and strikers, in the world, and one of Australia's greatest athletes.
Kerr played Australian rules football when she was young. Both her father and older brother, Daniel Kerr, were professional Australian rules footballers. She played the sport until switching to association football at the age of 12, mostly due to gender restrictions.
Despite facing some struggles transitioning from Australian rules football to association football, at age 13, she was spotted by Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski who described her athleticism and raw talent as "exceptional". At age 15, she made her W-League and international debuts.
Western Knights, 2006–2008
Kerr first started playing football as a junior at Western Knights in Mosman Park. After three years at the Western Knights, she trialled for the Western Australian State Team before moving to Perth Glory.
In 2013, Kerr signed with the Western New York Flash. She made 19 starts in her 21 appearances for the club and scored six goals. After defeating Sky Blue FC 2–0 in the semi-finals, the Flash lost 2–0 to Portland in the final.
Kerr returned to the Flash for the 2014 season. Head coach Aaran Lines said of Kerr, "With her attributes – her speed, athleticism and instincts – if she continues to develop at the rate she is, Sam can become one of the best strikers in the world." Kerr started in all 20 matches and was the team's leading scorer with 9 goals. She was named NWSL Player of the Week for week 9 after recording a brace and assist against Portland. Following the 2014 season, Kerr was traded to Sky Blue FC in exchange for Elizabeth Eddy and a first-round pick—fourth overall—in the 2015 NWSL College Draft. The Flash used that pick to draft Sam Mewis.
Return to Perth Glory, 2014–2015
In August 2014, Kerr returned to Perth Glory on a one-year deal as one of six Matildas to sign for Perth. She would open her account in Perth's second match against Adelaide United to give Perth the lead in the second half which they would win. The following match she scored a double in her team's 10–1 rout of Western Sydney Wanderers. After missing out in the next four games, Kerr would go and score eight goals in the final four games of the regular season which included a hat-trick against her former team in Sydney FC.
She continued her regular season form in the following season when she scored the winning goal in a 2–1 victory over Melbourne Victory in the opening round of the competition. That would be the only goal that she would score in the season with her leg giving way in a non-contact ankle injury which forced her out for the rest of the season. This wouldn't stop Perth from giving her a one-year contract extension before the start of that season. In the 2016–17 W-League season she scored ten goals, led the team to the Grand Final, and earned the Julie Dolan Medal and the Penny Tanner Media MVP Award. In October 2018, she became the first marquee player of the W-League when she was reportedly offered $400,000 contract to stay in Perth instead of going overseas where she was offered $100,000 less. The marquee signing delivered in the 2018–19 W-League season, when she finished top of the goal scoring charts with 17 goals at above a goal a game. This included a hat-trick in the semi-final against Melbourne Victory which booked Perth's spot into the grand final.
During the 2016 season, Kerr made nine appearances for Sky Blue after being away with the national team in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She scored five goals during the regular season. Kerr was named NWSL Player of the week for Week 18 after scoring two goals: an 80th-minute equaliser against the Orlando Pride and a game-winning goal against the Pride a few days later.
In the 2017 season, Kerr set a new NWSL record when she scored 4 goals in a single game after being down 3–0 to Seattle Reign at halftime. Sky Blue eventually won the match 5–4. At the age of 23, Kerr sat atop the all-time NWSL goalscoring table. Kerr won the NWSL Golden Boot and MVP award after finishing the 2017 season with a record-breaking 17 goals.
Chicago Red Stars, 2018–2019
On 18 January 2018, Kerr was traded to the Chicago Red Stars along with Nikki Stanton by the Sky Blue FC in a three-team trade with the Chicago Red Stars and Houston Dash. She got off to a slow start in the 2018 season, not scoring until the eighth match of the season when she contributed to a 1–1 draw against North Carolina Courage. In August, she was named as NWSL Player of the Month for the third time in her career as she scored five goals throughout the month of August which included two goals against Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride. At the end of the 2018 season, Kerr scored 16 goals and won the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season, leading to her becoming the first player to win the NWSL Golden Boot more than once, and was elected into the NWSL Best XI as a forward.
During the 2021–2022 WSL season, Kerr continued exhibiting fine form and was nominated for the Barclays Player of the Month for September. On 16 November 2021, Kerr signed a two-year contract extension, keeping her at the club until the end of the 2023/24 season, saying "I can't see myself going anywhere else in the world or leaving Europe, having what I have at Chelsea." The following week, Kerr scored the winning goal in Chelsea's Champions League group stage match against Servette, and scored her third league hat-trick, against Birmingham City, within 26 minutes, as well as providing the assist for team-mate Fran Kirby's 100th Chelsea goal, with Kerr celebrating her achievement with her signature back-flip, the first time she performed it at Chelsea's homeground of Kingsmeadow. On 5 December, Kerr scored a brace in the delayed FA Cupfinal against Arsenal, winning Player of the Match, and helping her team lift the trophy and secure the domestic quadruple of the 2020–21 season, the first English women's club to achieve the feat. Kerr ended the 2021 calendar year as the leading goalscorer in the WSL, with 23 goals, and was second in total assists with 10, behind only team-mate Fran Kirby.
Upon returning to Chelsea after being eliminated in the Asian Cup at the beginning of 2022, Sam continued with a fine run of goal-scoring, scoring 10 goals in 7 consecutive matches, the first Chelsea player to do so. She scored the lone Chelsea goal in a 3–1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the League Cup final and in Chelsea's 0–9 record-breaking win against Leicester City in the WSL on 27 March, Sam scored a brace, repeating the feat the following week in a match against Reading, the 5th consecutive WSL match she had scored in. On 24 April, in a league game against Tottenham Hotspur, Kerr scored in her 6th consecutive WSL match, and in doing so, broke her own record set the previous season of scoring against the most opposing teams, by scoring against all opponents bar Arsenal. In April 2022, Kerr was awarded the FWA Women's Footballer of the Year, receiving 40% of the vote ahead of Vivianne Miedema and Lauren Hemp, and won the FA WSL April Player of the Month. Kerr ended the season with 32 goals (including 3 goals of FA Cup 2020–21 held during 2021–22 season period) and 9 assists across all competitions, winning the FA Women's Super League for the third consecutive time, and the FA Women's Cup for the second consecutive time. After a formidable season in front of goal for the Blues, the 2021–22 Golden Boot winner was voted Chelsea Women's Player of the Year by Chelsea supporters with over 70 per cent of the vote and was also voted FA Women's Super League Player of the Season. She also received the PFA Players' Player of the Year, in addition to being named in the PFA WSL Team of the Year for second consecutive year. The No.20 finished top goal scorer, netting 32 times in all competitions. Kerr retained the Golden Boot award for the second consecutive year, having scored 20 times in the Barclays FA Women's Super League in 2021–22 season. The striker scored a number of important goals this season, including a crucial 92nd-minute winner against Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow in March 2022 to keep the Blues’ title hopes alive. Kerr also scored twice as Chelsea beat Manchester United on the final day of the season, with her well-taken volley against the Red Devils being voted FA Women's Super League Goal of the Season. The No.20 also scored the winning goal at Wembley as the Blues secured their second consecutive FA Cup.
In 2011 at age 17, Kerr was named to Australia's 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup squad by head coach Tom Sermanni as one of seven players who were under twenty years of age. She made her World Cup debut coming on as a substitute in the 79th minute of Australia's first group stage match against Brazil. She was a starter for the team's second group stage match against Equatorial Guinea helping Australia win 3–2 and the team's final group stage match and 2–1 win against Norway. Australia finished second place in their group and advanced to the knockout stage where they were defeated 3–1 by Sweden.
2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Canada
After injuring her knee in December 2014 and undergoing surgery, Kerr worked hard with fitness coach Aaron Holt to recover ahead of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. Kerr was the team's starting striker during Australia's first group stage match against the United States, which Australia lost 3–1. During the team's second group stage match, she helped Australia defeat Nigeria 2–0. During the match, Kerr was elbowed in the face by Ugo Njoku, which ultimately resulted in a three-game suspension for Njoku. Kerr recovered and started during Australia's final group stage match against Sweden, a 1–1 draw. Australia's finished second in their group and advanced to the round of 16 where Kerr played in the team that defeated Brazil 1–0. She also started the quarterfinal match in the first time Australia reached this stage, but they were defeated by 2011 champions Japan 1–0.
In February 2019, Kerr was named captain of the Matildas by newly appointed head coach Ante Milicic. Two months later, she was one of five nominees for the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year award. During the team's first group stage match at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France, she opened up an early lead against Italy after scoring a goal off a penalty kick rebound, though Australia ultimately lost 2–1 in stoppage time. Kerr's goal was her first at a World Cup tournament and she celebrated by punching the corner flag to honor Tim Cahill, the all-time leading goalscorer for the Socceroos. During the team's second group stage match against Brazil, though Kerr was in an offside position when Monica Hickmann Alves headed the ball into her own goal, the video assistant referee (VAR) deemed that Kerr wasn't interfering and the goal was counted for Australia. Australia won 3–2. Kerr scored four goals in the team's 4–1 win against Jamaica and was named Player of the Match. She is the first Australian footballer — male or female — to score a hat-trick at a World Cup tournament and the tenth footballer to score four goals. Australia finished second in their group and advanced to the knockout stage where they were defeated by Norway in a penalty shoot-out. Kerr's five goals at the tournament ranked fourth highest behind Ellen White of England and Americans Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who all scored six.
2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo
At 2020 Tokyo Olympics held in 2021, Australia was grouped with United States, Sweden and New Zealand. Kerr scored in the opening game, in which they beat New Zealand 2–1. In the second game against Sweden, Kerr scored a brace but missed a penalty and ended up losing 4–2. Progressing to the quarter-finals against Great Britain, Kerr scored an 89th-minute equaliser to see the game into extra time, before getting a brace to help Australia secure a 4–3 victory and progress to the semi-finals against Sweden. During this match, Kerr scored a goal that was controversially disallowed, and Australia ultimately lost 1–0. In the bronze medal match against the United States, she scored a goal in a 4–3 defeat, to become the all-time top scorer for the Matildas, surpassing Lisa De Vanna, with 48 goals.
On 21 September, in their first match after their Olympics defeat, and in Australia's first ever match against the Republic of Ireland, Kerr won her 100th cap, the 10th Matilda in history to do so. She returned with Australia to play two friendly matches against Brazil on home soil in October, the first time doing so since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and scored her 49th international goal in the second match.
2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup, India
At the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup, Sam scored 5 goals in Australia's opening match of the group stage against Indonesia, and in the process, equalled and surpassed the Australian international goal-scoring record, amongst both male and female Australian internationals, previously set by Tim Cahill (50 international goals). She was also able to achieve the feat within fewer matches, needing 105 matches to equal the 50 goals set by Cahill, who set the record within 108 international appearances. Despite being eliminated in the quarter-finals by South Korea, Sam won the Golden Boot, scoring 7 goals in only 4 matches.
In July 2022, it was announced that Kerr would feature on the cover of the Ultimate edition of FIFA 23 alongside Kylian Mbappé, this is the first time a female player would appear on the global cover of the game franchise. (Alex Morgan only appeared on the US version of FIFA 16)
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