Tom Sermanni, a former head coach of the Matildas, recalls the instant he realized Sam Kerr was unique.
She was 15 years old and it was February 2009.
She made her Australian women’s football team debut in an unremarkable fashion, entering the game in Canberra’s 5-1 loss to Italy after 76 minutes as a substitute. She appeared to be a typical adolescent, with a baby face, nervousness, and a body that didn’t quite fit the green and gold jersey she was wearing. Nobody had high hopes.
But after that, she began to move.
She was extremely inexperienced and young, but Sermanni noted that even at that time, she was competitive with the team’s best athletes and players.
“She had everything she needed, but I don’t think she realized how good she was or could be.”
Sam Kerr’s development over the previous 13 years has coincided with the growth of women’s football.
She began her career in quiet suburban stadiums, where the majority of the spectators were family and friends. Today, she is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, entering some of the most renowned stadiums to the screams of tens of thousands of adoring fans.
Since joining Perth Glory, her first professional team in Australia’s A-League Women competition, Kerr has taken home nearly every individual honor available.
On three different continents, she has received seven Golden Boot awards, given to the league’s top scorer. She is the all-time leading goal scorer for the country she now proudly captains and has won five MVP awards in three different leagues.
She has received honors chosen by football players, journalists, and fans. She is the face of some of the biggest brands in sports and the first woman to grace the global cover of the renowned FIFA videogame. She possesses an Order of Australia medal and a key to Perth, her hometown.
The prestigious Ballon D’Or award, which honors the best men’s and women’s player of the previous year, will be presented to her next week, and she is among the favorites to win.