- Australia’s Sam Kerr enters France 2019 in rare goalscoring form
- The newly-appointed captain hopes to lead the Matildas to new highs in France
- “Its good people expect us to do well, that is where we have always wanted to be”
By Pete Smith with Australia
Kerr’s goalscoring return has reached stratospheric levels in that time, with an extraordinary two-year return of 23 goals for the Matildas at almost a goal a game. The 24-year-old’s club form has been no less impressive, with back-to-back golden boots in each of the past two NWSL and W-League seasons.
With Australia enjoying some stellar results in the past few years, the two-time quarter-finalists are optimistic of eclipsing their best-ever showing at a Women’s World Cup. Ahead of their Group C opener against Italy, FIFA.com spoke with Kerr about her recent appointment as captain, the team’s heightened expectations for France 2019, the iconic backflip celebration and more.
Kerr’s goalscoring streak (since 2017)
Australia: 23 goals in 27 appearances
NWSL: 39 in 48 appearances
W-League: 39 goals in 36 appearances
FIFA.com: You have been hugely successful in the past few years. What has changed in your game since Canada 2015?
Sam Kerr: A huge thing for me is that I have stayed injury free. I battled a lot of injuries going into the last World Cup. I have become more of a professional, learnt how to take care of my body, learnt what is good for my body, and what is not. I have obviously changed my goalscoring ability, but I don’t think much has really changed other than my mentality and the way I take care of my body. I wish there was more to it, but at the same time I love that it is has just been a natural flow into scoring goals. I feel the best prepared for a tournament that I have been for a long time.
Is your backflip goal celebration something that comes spontaneously?
It is kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. When it is a big match, or a big goal, it seems to happen. People always ask me when I’m going to do it and I never know. It is just pure emotion.
Can you remember your emotions going into your first World Cup, and how does that compare to now?
I was super, super nervous, really worked up and anything could have set me off. Being 17, it was all a bit of a shock, especially in Germany, where they love their football, the buzz was nothing I had experienced before. I felt like I almost missed an opportunity to enjoy where I was and take in the fact that I was at a World Cup. So now, being my third World Cup, I understand how big this is going to be. It is an amazing honour and I want to enjoy the ride. I will still be nervous on game day, but I feel now I can control my nerves and use it in a good way rather than being a nervous wreck.
What do you enjoy about being captain and does that change your approach?
It hasn’t changed my approach around the team. I have really enjoyed working with (coach) Ante (Milicic) really closely. I feel like I have learnt a lot about myself, about the team, about how to play. Having that closer contact with the coach has been really enjoyable. I have always wanted to be a leader, but I don’t think when I was given the captaincy that I was completely ready for the role, and that I was going to grow into the role. That closer bond between me and him is something I have really enjoyed.
For perhaps the first time, there are expectations back home for the Matildas. Does that have any impact on the team?
Obviously there is a little bit of pressure, and you don’t want to let people down. It is good that people are talking about the Matildas, they expect us to do well, and that is where we have always wanted to be. For us it is a dream come true, and we hope we can do everyone proud. But we are really lucky, because we feel everyone at home has our backs and that is a very rare thing in professional sport.
Has there been much chat with the other players at Chicago Red Stars about Australia’s chances at the World Cup, or how Australia match up with the US?
There has been a little bit of banter, mostly between myself and the US players, and it has all been in a good spirit. I think if all the girls at Chicago had a choice, the final would be USA-Australia and obviously we are all hoping for that. At the end of the day, the girls just want their team-mates to do well and they have all been very supportive.