Sam Kerr is already the face and scoring power behind the Matildas, and now she’ll be wearing the national team’s armband as well.
On Wednesday, Ante Milicic made the biggest shake-up of his young Matildas reign, installing the superstar forward as Australian captain and Steph Catley as her deputy.
Milicic said he wanted 25-year-old Kerr as captain since before even taking the job, and their time spent together in camp affirmed his view.
“She’s a leader, she’s fearless and she’s very important to the team,” he said.
She really reminds me of Tim Cahill to be perfectly honest. She’s confident. She has that belief and she really carries the team.
“She’s ready at this moment to take this opportunity.”
Kerr and Catley replace co-captains Clare Polkinghorne and Lisa De Vanna, who remain in the team, though previous coach Alen Stajcic made a point of rotating the captaincy.
Kerr captained Perth Glory to the W-League grand final this season, scoring a competition-record 17 goals.
Amid her club campaign and the Matildas’ tumultuous coaching change, Kerr said she didn’t see the offer coming when Milicic approached her at training.
“He speaks in such a passionate way, it’s quite uplifting. It had me quite emotional when he asked me,” she said.
“He said, ‘If you need to think about it’, but I was like ‘I don’t need to think about it’.”
“It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? It’s a massive honour.”
Milicic said the leadership role reflected Kerr’s standing in the game.
“Let’s be honest, she’s one of the best players in the world. Let’s show her the respect she deserves,” he said.
Kerr’s extraordinary record as the all-time leading goalscorer in both the Australian and US leagues shows her on-field ability.
Nike’s decision to include the Western Australian performing a trademark backflip in a new global campaign demonstrates her marketability.
As captain, Kerr hopes it’s the little-seen work she does behind the scenes that makes the biggest difference.
“On the field, I’m very vocal and very tough but in a positive way,” she said.
“Off the field, I’m the jokester that likes to make people feel comfortable and likes to see people feel connected.
“When I was 15 coming into the Matildas, I remember how hard it was then.”
Kerr will have a first opportunity to wear the armband on Thursday night when Australia plays New Zealand in their Cup of Nations opener.
The Cup of Nations, which also includes Argentina and South Korea, will afford the Matildas crucial match practice on the road to the World Cup in June.
Catley, also 25, captains Melbourne City in the W-League and said she was proud to be recognised and looked forward to working closely with her great friend Kerr.
“Together we can make France 2019 a special World Cup for Australian football,” she said.