What on earth went through Sam Kerr’s mind as she led the Matildas out in Grenoble? – FTBL | The home of football in Australia – The Women’s Game



What on earth went through Sam Kerr’s mind as she led the Matildas out in Grenoble? - FTBL | The home of football in Australia - The Women's Game

Was it the 20,000 obligatory chants of Seven Nation Army, the millions of global viewers, the cameras and floodlights and blackened skies shadowing the monstrous Alpine ranges looming overhead?

Was it that she, a quintessentially Aussie girl from Fremantle who ‘hated soccer’ as a kid had just been crowned the best player in the world three times? Was her shell-shocked team, a mess of defensive calamities, yet among the World Cup favourites, weighing on her shoulders? Was she aware that she was not only representing her teammates and her nation but her sport and her gender? Perhaps she knew that her own idols were calling her ‘an immature captain’ or she was thinking about the ‘lesbian mafia’ taunt the media were tarring her team with. Maybe she was just considering her response the last time she walked off a football pitch that her critics could ‘suck on that one’.

This is an extract from the incredible new Australian football book The Immortals of Australian Soccer, which recounts an unparalleled history of Australian football through its greatest moments and players. The book is available now through all good bookstores or online here.

Only Kerr knows. The only thing everyone realised was that it was do or die for the Young Australian of the Year right here against Jamaica. The critics, poppy slashers, creeps, haters and disbelievers were waiting, the whole world was watching, the pressure had reached boiling point and Kerr was about to explode. The Matildas were instantly on the back foot against the Reggae Gurlz, one of the World Cup’s lowest-ranked teams, but after just 11 minutes Kerr executed a glancing header behind her back to convert a meaningless, looping cross into the game’s first goal.

She barely celebrated, instead seeming to be driven, almost burdened, that of course it was her and of course it will be her again. Three minutes before half-time she smashed her forehead directly into the ball from point-blank range for her second. She was the most dangerous striker in the world in the most dangerous area of the pitch, and still no one got near her.

Her critics wanted Kerr to be a mature and graceful role model, but she was the best player in the world because when she stepped onto a football pitch she wanted to embarrass her opponents.

Her hat-trick couldn’t be simpler: she created acres of space, made her marker look useless and side footed the ball harmlessly into the net. However, her fourth goal
was the most humiliating, cantering towards the goalkeeper in possession. She feinted out wide to draw the error, stripped the keeper of the ball and slammed it into the net.

For the first time in the match she celebrates, like Spartacus: still with clenched fists as the opponent she destroyed lay on the ground before her clutching her hands to her face. ‘She’s a joke. She just shows up, doesn’t she, whenever you need a superhero,’ Steph Catley said post match.

Australia may never understand what it means to have the greatest women’s footballer in the world. The difference between potential and outcome is the line upon which everything in life is drawn, and on Kerr’s line Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka are failures.

Every other footballer in this book is an Australian football immortal; Sam Kerr is a football immortal. The difference is in the billions and growing greater every second.

This is an extract from the incredible new Australian football book The Immortals of Australian Soccer, which recounts an unparalleled history of Australian football through its greatest moments and players. The book is available now through all good bookstores or online here.


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