Why Cahill comparisons don't do Kerr justice

You don’t have to be a football aficionado in this country to recognise the name Samantha Kerr.

The insanely talented 24 year-old has set the international world alight with her exceptional abilities and the terrifying thing is, that she’s only just begun to show us what she’s capable of.

Ever since she donned the green and gold for the Matildas as a 15 year-old from East Fremantle, Western Australia, her mesmerising potential was instantly obvious.

Born in an AFL-loving family in which her father and older brother Daniel were professional players, I shudder to think what we as a football community would be missing had she not ultimately chosen our beloved game over Australian Rules at the age of 12.

A whippet fast, technically-sound right footer, her ability to anticipate play and relentless eye for goal have caused a stir but it’s only more recently that she’s morphed into a household name and genuine force to be reckoned with.

In spite of all her achievements to-date and her meteoric rise, she’ll be the first to admit that aspects of her game still need refining.

When I sat down with her a over a week ago for the launch of the 10th season of the W-League, I asked her how she felt about various pundits comparing her to Socceroos icon, Tim Cahill.

She was humble and incredibly modest in her reply saying: "It’s a little bit weird because Timmy’s such a legend. I grew up watching Timmy and I look up to him a lot.

"Obviously it’s a huge honour, Tim Cahill is the best ever Socceroo. I think I’ve still got a long way to go.

"It’s not something I take very lightly, I have to keep up my form because he’s been a legend for many years and I’ve only just started my career."

The more I thought about the question, the more I began to wonder if comparisons of this kind were even appropriate.

When it comes to athletes on the sporting landscape, we have this insatiable desire to compare up-and-comers to those who have already reached enormous heights in their respective careers.

For some the pressure is too much, for others, it’s a superfluous ideology that neither fazes or flatters them.

No athlete traditionally wants to be remembered for being ‘like’ someone, they want to create their own legacy and be celebrated as a unique talent.

The indisputable thing they all share in common is that they are rare and exceptionally gifted creatures who are obsessed with winning and will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams.

Sam Kerr is one of them and her recent return to the W-League after a wildly successful stint in the United States with National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side, Sky Blue FC is a massive coup for Perth Glory.

In the last year alone, she was nominated for a FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award and bizarrely snubbed, become the all-time leading goalscorer of the NWSL and was named the league's best player for 2017, won the Women’s Health Sportswoman of the Year Award and was the golden boot at the Tournament of Nations.

This list of accolades is merely touching the sides when it comes to what she’s managed to accomplish thus far and given that she only turned 24 in September, I have no doubt, the records will continue to be broken.

Last week, it took her just three minutes to open the scoring account for the Glory in their dominant 4-1 win over reigning champions Melbourne City - a side they lost to in last season’s grand final.

Her positional change from the wing to the centre of the park as a number nine is something she has also attributed to her more recent explosion, a position coach Alen Stajcic has also given her creative license to adopt in the national team.

What I enjoy most about Kerr, in addition to watching her carve it up on the field both domestically and for her country, is the person behind the footballer.

For a woman of her stature, she could easily be forgiven for allowing all the positive attention in the media and from the fans to go to her head but it hasn’t.

She retains a sweet shyness, an abundance of modesty and a relatable quality that is difficult to find in just about all sporting amphitheatres.

In my experiences, some of the best players in the world have possessed similar sets of qualities and just like Kerr, refuse to let the opinions of the outside world define their careers or ambitions.

So, when I sit down to watch Sammy take to the field against Brisbane Roar this Sunday, I won’t be sitting there thinking, ‘she’s the next Tim Cahill’, I’ll be saying, ‘she’s going to be one of the best players the world has ever seen.’

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5 min read
Published 3 November 2017 at 11:06am
By Lucy Zelic