‘You can’t think about losing, ever’: Driven Kerr claims another accolade ahead of FA Cup final

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Sam Kerr loves big matches and has a track record to prove it. The Australian striker has scored nine goals in six appearances in major domestic cup finals for Chelsea, and her eyes light up as she discusses preparing for a third straight Women’s FA Cup final.

Since arriving at Chelsea in the middle of the 2019-20 season amid huge expectations, Kerr has helped Emma Hayes’ team win seven pieces of major domestic silverware out of a possible 10 so far, which is probably why she shakes her head and replies, “Oh God, no”, when asked is she ever goes into cup finals with any fear of losing.

Star striker Sam Kerr has been named the Football Writers Association women’s player of the year for 2023.Credit: Getty Images

“You can’t think about losing, ever. That’s the No.1 sin of a footballer. If you think about that, it’s going to happen,” the 29-year-old says, speaking to a small group of journalists over a video call ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Manchester United at Wembley.

“I only think about the good things, the celebration. Once you start thinking negative thoughts, that’s the only way you’re going to go. I visualise scoring a goal, the celebrations, seeing my family after the game, all the things that make me play football and be a footballer.

“I love the pressure, I love the big games, I love being able to have a moment in the palm of your hands and be able to do something great.”

The Australian captain adds that Wembley is her favourite stadium, and it is not hard to imagine why. She has played there three times for Chelsea, including 2020’s Women’s FA Community Shield and the past two Women’s FA Cup finals, and she’s scored four goals and celebrated lifting a trophy each time.

“Every time I go there it’s for a trophy. I never have to visit otherwise. It’s a big-game stadium,” Kerr adds. “You don’t go there to play any other game other than for a trophy. I’ve never been there and not won a trophy. Fingers crossed this weekend is the same.”

If Kerr’s scoring against Manchester United continues, her experience of the national stadium probably will feel similar again. She’s scored seven times in seven appearances against United in all competitions, including in both of this season’s Women’s Super League meetings between the two title rivals.

Yet if you ask her about her own match-winning contributions she is quick to point towards those setting up with the assists, adding: “I’m a very lucky player that I get the most amazing service from every single player, Niamh [Charles], Guro [Reiten], Jelena [Cankovic], Jessie [Fleming] – they’re all unbelievable players.

“My role in the team is to score and I have so much belief in the team that they will do anything to make me score.”

Sam Kerr in action for Chelsea against Everton in the Women’s Super League.Credit: Getty Images

Kerr, who was named as the Football Writers Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year for 2023 on Friday night (AEST), with Manchester City’s Erling Haaland taking the men’s award, is speaking just over a year to the day since she scored two stunning volleys against Manchester United on the final day of the 2021-22 WSL season to clinch her third league title in a row as a Chelsea player, and she wants a repeat of the buzz her spectacular goals on that day generated.

She adds: “People are still talking about that Man United last game of the season – it’s exciting when there’s another moment like that on the horizon.”

There could be several huge moments on the horizon for Kerr, with not just a domestic double on the line for Chelsea over the remainder of the month of May, but this year’s Women’s World Cup, which is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

The former Perth Glory and Sydney FC forward is fully aware of how significant the rest of 2023 could be in her life, with her face likely to be plastered over the majority of billboards in Australia for the run-up to the nation’s first major tournament on home soil.

“It’s been a bit crazy to think about it all, to be honest. I don’t think now, for me personally, is the time to reflect. I think [I’ll reflect] after this whole summer, after it’s all said and done. But it’s been an amazing journey to get here. Last year was amazing, and then this year is obviously probably going to be the biggest year of my career and my life and something I’ll remember forever.

“It’s a whirlwind, but I’m enjoying it, and I’m really proud to be a part of all of this change in women’s football.”

So, what might Kerr’s future hold? She has a contract with Chelsea until at least the summer of 2024 and, despite knowing she’ll turn 30 in September, feels she can still get better and better.

“I feel like I have a lot more to give,” she adds. “I think Emma [Hayes] struggles to give me a rest because I get a bit angry if I’m not playing! I still have a lot I want to achieve.

“It’s about still getting better and you can’t look into the future, but I see myself going bigger and better than what I am now and hopefully continue winning trophies with this team and go from there.”

Telegraph, London

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