Sam Kerr’s class shone bright as the Matildas were sent packing.
Sam Kerr’s class shone bright as the Matildas were sent packing.

Kerr’s act of pure class you missed

Sam Kerr has wowed Australia plenty of times before - and will do so countless times in the future - but her true class shone through when most would have been wallowing in self-pity.

The Matildas captain missed a penalty in her side's crushing loss to Norway in the World Cup Round of 16, cutting short the Aussies' tournament.

She stepped up to the spot first in the shootout after the match was locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes but blasted high and wide.

Missing a penalty is nothing new in football but for someone who can lay claim to being the world's best player, the margin of her mistake was jarring.

But she didn't hide her head in her hands or feel sorry for herself. While most would have trudged back to halfway, the inspirational star jogged to rejoin her teammates.

Matildas coach Ante Milicic said it best after the match.

"I'm extremely proud of Sam and as an Australian coach, to be able to work with her has been an excellent experience for me," Milicic said.

"Only big players can miss penalties because small ones don't take them."

Kerr after missing her penalty attempt.
Kerr after missing her penalty attempt.

He's right, and Sam Kerr is as big a player as they come.

When Emily Gielnik had her penalty saved it would have been easy to accept defeat was coming, but as she cut a dejected figure on the long walk back to her comrades, there was Kerr, clapping and encouraging not just Gielnik, but her fellow Matildas too.

It's why the 25-year-old is one of Australia's most loved sportspeople, not just one of the most talented. And her class didn't end there.

Shortly after the devastating loss, players walked off the pitch still dressed in full kit and through a throng of reporters wanting to get their thoughts on the drama that had just unfolded.

The players are under no obligation to stop and chat, and you could forgive Kerr especially if she just wanted to get out of sight and avoid the spotlight altogether.

But as she turned the corner towards the first group of Aussie journalists, Kerr acknowledged them and flashed a smile. It may not seem like much but given what she'd just been through, to have the poise to carry herself like that, rather than slink away into the dressing room, spoke volumes.

Kerr maintained her composure and spoke with the same eloquence and humility we've come to expect as she answered every question thoughtfully and honestly, giving everyone a glimpse of that smile from time to time even though she would have been burning on the inside.

"I'm alright, what can you do," Kerr said. "I've been trusted to take it and I was confident in taking it, and I just skewed it. I'll grow from this and become a stronger person mentally.

"The girls have already gotten around me. I feel like I let the team down but they've been quick to cut that out."

The team get around Kerr after the penalty miss.
The team get around Kerr after the penalty miss.

The personal pain she was no doubt feeling would have overwhelmed many but Kerr left on a classy note, thanking the Matildas supporters who were out in force in France.

"Especially the fans that travelled out here, we feel so lucky we have that many fans that want to follow us around the world and we've seen heaps of them on the street," Kerr said.

"I wish I could say thanks to every single one of them and obviously to everyone at home getting up early and watching us, sending their messages through, it's been unreal and the girls always feel the love from home.

"We're very lucky and although we lost tonight, hopefully we did you proud."

There's no doubt they did.

As for what's next for the football hotshot, "the grind continues", she said, looking forward towards qualification for the 2020 Olympics and improving individually.

Reports of a $1 million offer from Chelsea were dismissed as "media speculation" and while she's a superhero on the field, her response to a question about how she'd spend her night in Nice was a reminder she's just as human as the rest of us.

"I dunno, shower," she said.

News Corp Australia


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