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Sam Kerr’s rise to the top of the women’s game and Chelsea’s contract decision

Few names are better known in the world of women’s football than Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr.

The 30-year-old is known as one of the most dangerous strikers in the game and his record for club and country proves it. She is currently Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer, male or female, after surpassing Tim Cahill’s record just over two years ago.

The concern felt by Chelsea fans at the end of last season was palpable. After losing long-serving WSL manager Emma Hayes, they face the prospect of losing their star striker again as he enters the final months of his contract in west London.

Any fears were put to rest last week, although it wasn’t a clever trick to scare people into thinking he was leaving. 30 minutes after releasing a snippet of an emotional interview with Kerr, the club confirmed he will stay with the WSL champions until the summer of 2026.

He joked at the end of the announcement: “Did you think I would end up with 99 goals?”

Despite injuring his ACL in January and missing the end of last campaign, and also set to miss this summer’s Olympics in Australia, Kerr has plenty of history to write for his club in the coming years. While there is now significant competition for places between Chelsea’s attacking ranks, with the likes of Catarina Macario and Mayra Ramirez fighting for places, it will take a lot for Kerr’s influence and contributions to be matched.

The striker grew up in the suburbs of Perth in Western Australia and it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he really fell in love with the game. Kerr began his senior career with local club Perth Glory and made his first appearance aged just 15, before moving to the United States in 2013 to join the Western New York Flash.

His coach at the time, Aaran Lines, spoke highly of the then 20-year-old and advised him to become one of the best in the world. “Let’s not forget you’re only 20 years old. What’s that in America, a sophomore in college?” The lines were quoted in USA Today. “With his qualities – his speed, athleticism and instinct – if he continues to develop at the rate he is, Sam could be one of the best strikers in the world.”

Sam Kerr

Sam Kerr celebrates after winning the FA Cup for Chelsea in 2022/23 / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Kerr did just that as he had spells at Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars. He was already an international player in his country as he started playing in Australia in 2009 when he was only 15 years old. He went on to represent the Matildas in two Asian Championships, four World Cups and the Olympic Games.

In 2019, Kerr was ready to move to Europe and there was no shortage of players from French giants Olympique Lyonnais among the clubs he wanted to sign. However, it was Chelsea who won the race and he signed for the London club ahead of the second half of the 2019/20 campaign.

He made his team debut in the WSL meeting with Reading at Kingsmeadow. He then scored his first league goal a few weeks later in a 4–1 win against Arsenal at Meadow Park.

Kerr’s four years at Chelsea have so far been very successful and trophy-laden. He has five league titles to his name, three FA Cups and two League Cups. The striker also helped the Blues reach their first ever Champions League final in the 2020/21 campaign.

His 99 goals for Chelsea included cup winners and key strikes against rivals in multiple title races. Former manager Hayes summed up his influence best after his brilliance was the difference in their 2023 FA Cup final victory over Manchester United at Wembley.

“I have never coached a player like him [Sam Kerr],” Hayes told the media after the game. “A player with confidence, self-belief and courage in the way he attacks everything. But what I like about Sam is that he is determined to take responsibility for himself at the top of the field.”

The fact that Kerr’s absence wasn’t felt as strongly as it should have been in the second half of last season is a testament to Chelsea’s incredible depth in forward positions. But, when he returns to the field after recovering from his ACL injury, it will be a welcome boost for his teammates and new manager Sonia Bompastor.

Chelsea face the daunting task of making it six league titles in a row given the ever-increasing strength of the WSL teams around them. In Europe, Bompastor will be tasked with finally making it to the Champions League and winning the one piece of silverware that has always seemed to elude the club.

Kerr’s return from injury and competition for places will be key to any success Chelsea find next term. The Australian international’s experience and experience of delivering in big moments at the biggest stages cannot be underestimated, making his contract renewal this summer the best piece of business they could have done.


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