Sam Kerr: Australian superstar was ‘nervous’ ahead of WSL debut

Chelsea was the best fit for me – Sam Kerr

She may be one of the best strikers in the world, but even Sam Kerr admits she felt nervous about playing in the Women’s Super League.

Chelsea beat off competition from the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to sign the Australia international, who has broken a string of goalscoring records during her illustrious career.

But despite her fearsome reputation, Kerr tells BBC Sport she was still anxious about her move to England.

“I was nervous about coming,” she says.

Chelsea pulled off a coup in signing Kerr from National Women’s Soccer League side Chicago Red Stars in November 2019.

The Australian made her much-anticipated WSL debut against Reading at the start of January and scored her first goal for the club in a 4-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday.

“It’s a big move – cold weather, being further away from home, a longer season, all those types of things,” she adds.

“But I feel like I’ve been welcomed in by the team and the club and I feel really comfortable here. I can see myself really enjoying and loving living in London.”

Hayes relationship key to Chelsea move

Sam Kerr (right) captained Australia at the Women’s World Cup last summer

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes played an important role in signing Kerr, who received a host of offers from European clubs after she announced her decision to leave Chicago to move to Europe.

Kerr admits Hayes’ determination to sign her, and their subsequent friendship, was key in her decision to move to West London.

“She didn’t bother me or nag me, it was just more talking about football and what’s important to us,” she says.

“She talked about her family, I talked about my family – the things important to us. That’s where we connected – off the pitch we both had the same values. We talked a fair bit and its important before you make a big decision.

“A lot of things had to fall into place for me to be here and they all kind of did, and I knew it was the time.

“I did a lot of research on Chelsea, I watched the girls, I did a bit of research on the league and I honestly thought they were the team that was the best fit for me.

“Football is the most important thing to me but at the end of the day, I want to be working with good people.”

‘I don’t care what trophy it is, I just want to win one!’

Kerr scored her first Chelsea goal in their 4-1 win against Arsenal on Sunday

She may hold the all-time goalscoring records in both the American and Australian leagues, aged just 26, and she shone with five goals at the 2019 World Cup in France – but those achievements have not always translated into trophies.

She won two W-League titles and an NWSL Shield in Australia but failed to win a trophy in the US, with both her seasons in Chicago ending with defeat in the play-offs.

“I want to win trophies, that’s part of the reason why I’m at Chelsea,” says Kerr.

“I’ve always missed out, it feels like I’ve lost in the final a million times. That’s why I came here – Chelsea needed those extra few pieces to really become a title team and they’ve been absolutely killing it without me, so my plan is to slide in as easily as I can and hopefully win some trophies with them.

“I don’t care what trophy it is, I just want to win one!”

So what separates Kerr from other goalscorers?

“I would say I’m an unnatural striker. Everything I do is off the cuff, it’s my instincts,” she says.

“That’s one of my strengths – defenders don’t always know what I’m doing because I don’t always do the same thing.

“Other forwards in the world that are hold-up forwards, they like to keep the ball. But I think with me, sometimes I don’t even know what I did after I scored. It just happens and I think that’s from my upbringing playing Aussie Rules.

“I’ve just been a really off-the-cuff, instinctive player. I’ve used that to my advantage throughout my career and hopefully it can keep working. It’s something I possess that not many others do.”

‘We have to change something before it’s too late’

Away from football, Kerr has also spoken out about climate change, an issue given extra poignancy as wildfires have ravaged large swatches of her native Australia in recent weeks.

Kerr has auctioned off a shirt and some boots to raise funds for the victims of wildfires and says she will continue to use her profile to try and highlight the issue and the urgent need for change.

“I think something’s got to change,” she says. “The amount of people that have died and animal lives and habitats that have been lost, it’s either now or never for us. We have to change something before it’s too late.

“Obviously some people are in a position where they can do things and others aren’t. Where it’s possible, everyone should do their part. Whether it’s big or small, I believe it makes a difference. I try and take it into account in my life but I understand not everyone is in a position to make changes.”

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