Aside from when she’s galloping into open space on a counter-attack or leaping unreasonably high for headers, Sam Kerr doesn’t actually score that many great goals.
She shares that trait with some of football’s all-time great strikers.
So many of her goals are poked, tapped or casually slid in, that is seems such a simple exercise. And she misses her fair share of chances too.
But the point is there are: So. Many. Goals.
And the simplicity of them is not a product of fortune or being part of the best teams.
They are the end result of a supreme athlete being at the peak of her powers, honed both physically and mentally to be football’s apex predator.
Her speed of thought, understanding of space and football smarts make her a formidable goalscorer, but it’s her ability to do it all at pace that makes her the best in the business.
And that awareness and speed account for all the tap-ins and poked-home rebound goals; being in the right place at the right time is an art form.
It’s also why Kerr has struck up such a potent combination with her strike partner at Chelsea, Fran Kirby — another fox in the box who reads the game as easily as the back of a Corn Flakes carton.
Kerr finished the season with 21 goals, three clear of Vivianne Miedema, but Kirby was not far behind with 16 strikes.
And both players feature on the assists chart, with Kirby equal top with 11 and Kerr equal fifth with eight for the campaign. The duo’s numbers are astonishing in a league peppered with many of football’s biggest stars.
More honours surely to come
Having now won the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England with Chelsea and topped the scoring charts as the Golden Boot, she can rightly claim to be up with Ash Barty as Australia’s most accomplished sportsperson on the world stage.
While few doubted Kerr would be a hit in European competition, it still remained the final box to tick in her club career, having already conquered Australia and the US.
She has now won honours on three continents, having claimed the W-League with Perth Glory, the NWSL Shield with Western New York Flash and the Community Shield FA Women’s League Cup to go with her Super League title in England.
There might even be more to come in the very near future, with Chelsea taking on Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final next Monday morning (AEST).
Having come close in the past (seventh in 2019 and fifth in 2018), it would be no surprise if Kerr finally picks up the Ballon d’Or Féminin in December.
She was already named the best player in the world in 2019 in The Guardian’s top-100 female footballers list.
Can Kerr carry the Matildas to glory?
While Australian football fans have been basking in Kerr’s success, it has only heightened their desire to see her win trophies with the Matildas.
With Australia hosting the World Cup in 2023, the national team is rightly among the favourites, but recent drubbings at the hands of Germany (5-2) and The Netherlands (5-0) have dampened expectations somewhat.
On paper, the Matildas, who have been ranked as high as number five in the world, should be getting better and better.
And it’s not just because they have one of the world’s best footballers leading the line.
Kerr is at the vanguard of a throng of Australian women performing at the top level in Europe, gaining precious experience and knowledge at the highest rungs of the game.
Caitlin Foord has been getting among the goals for Arsenal, while Hayley Raso (Everton), Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham), Lydia Williams (Arsenal), Ella Mastrantonio (Bristol City) and Alanna Kennedy (Tottenham) are among the Australians thriving in the Super League.
Then there’s Mary Fowler at Montpellier, Aivi Luik at Sevilla and Ellie Carpenter at current European Champions Lyon.
The Socceroos can only dream of having so many players playing starring roles in Europe’s top leagues.
The challenge with Australia’s national teams has always been drawing those players together to play under a unified and cohesive system, something new head coach Tony Gustavsson is clearly yet to do.
But there is still time, and there is certainly a strong desire among the playing group, not least of which from Kerr herself, to raise the Matildas from a top-10 side to a top-three side, and to have a real shot at becoming world champions.
And if anyone knows about winning trophies by now, it’s Matildas captain Sam Kerr.