Kerr's class clear for all to see as Chelsea star seals Women's Super League title in stunning style

Sam Kerr Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

Incredibly, in Sam Kerr’s early days as a Chelsea player, there were questions over her ability.

Did she have what it takes to score in the Women’s Super League? Could she do it in the big games?

On Sunday, after Chelsea found themselves losing to Manchester United on two occasions in the first half of their title decider, Kerr once again proved that the fact anyone ever doubted her was simply laughable.

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It was the Australia forward's sensational volley, flying into the top corner of Mary Earps’ goal like a rocket, that got the Blues back on track at 2-2, just moments after the second half had resumed.

The first half had been surprisingly shaky and sloppy from the champions-elect, but Kerr’s magic certainly eased the nerves.

Yet, she might have even topped that with her second of the day, bringing down a header from Guro Reiten - who netted Chelsea's third of the afternoon - on her chest, turning towards the United goal as she did so, before unleashing a first-time volley that got the better of an unsuspecting Earps again. 4-2.

In the same minute, 25 miles across London, Kerr’s compatriot Steph Catley had put second-placed Arsenal 2-0 up away at West Ham. But the former’s wonder-strike had rendered that result irrelevant.

The Gunners needed the league leaders to slip up, and though it looked like they might in the first half, it did not anymore.

The introductions of Ji So-yun and Beth England at half-time, when United led 2-1, certainly changed the game for Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, but then it was all about the wonderful ability of their Australian superstar. Her performance was game-winning – and title-winning.

"Of course, I wanted to come here and make an immediate impact but sometimes it's doesn't go that way," Kerr said after the game on Sunday, reflecting on the criticism she faced upon her arrival in England.

"But the same thing happened to me at Chicago. I didn't score for the first six games I was there. I just had to find my way and I think I know myself better than anyone else.

"I know once I feel comfortable in a team... and the most important thing for me is that I get the trust from the team-mates, that in the 90th minute, they want to put the ball where I am. I think once I settled into the team off the pitch, that's when I start to play well on the pitch.

"Of course, it's nice to start scoring, but I don't think about anything anyone said about me because one day they hate you and one day they love you.

"That's life," she concluded, looking down at the WSL winners' medal around her neck. "I just keep going and trying to win these things."

Chelsea WSL title trophy 2021-22Getty

She has won plenty, too. Since picking up the Continental Cup just one month after her Chelsea debut, she has racked up another six trophies – including Sunday’s WSL title, the Blues’ third in succession, a competition record.

"It's hilarious," Hayes said on Sunday, reflecting on the time in which people were doubting what Kerr could do. "But more importantly, think about what Sam just said.

"We talk about differences in the men's and women's games and Sam often says you need to belong to play well. Once she belonged in the group, and I felt personally once she stopped trying to impress everyone, because she's a great team-mate, she wanted to belong. The minute that stopped, everything changed.

"I think it's not easy to do. You come in, you've got a lot of tension on you, you want to fit in and you want to do it with humility and grace, and she has that. But at the same time, she's got to be a No.9 who has selfish traits and pick the right times and the right moments to do that.

"But the best have it both sides of the ball - defensively from the front, she can make it a nightmare for the opponent and once spaces open up, has scored all different types of goals, including the fourth goal today."

"Was that outside the box?" Kerr interjected after Hayes finished her answer. "Because everyone keeps saying I never score outside the box." Her manager confirmed it was and added: "The first one was a left foot finish!"

But despite Kerr thanking her manager for that acknowledgement and basking in the quality she put on for a sold-out Kingsmeadow on Sunday, Kerr's final words of the day summed up what she is really about – and it is not often scoring goals like the second here.

"Obviously they are up there,” she said, asked where Sunday’s brace ranked in her best goals. “But the best goals for me and the ones that mean the most so, believe it or not, the Villa goal, to me is more important.”

That strike, a last-minute winner to keep Chelsea in pole position for the title back in March, was the total opposite to those against United.

“I obviously love that they were amazing, but I don't care if I tap it in at the back post at the last minute. I'm not known for my worldie goals but the thing that I'm known for is getting it done when it matters.

“That's why when everyone asks me, 'What's your favourite goal of the season?' I always say the easiest one, because that's the most important thing for me, scoring goals and making sure the team is at the top of the table when the season ends.

"I don't care about how it goes in or where it goes in, as long as it goes in.”

That’s why Chelsea won the Women's Super League - because Kerr’s mentality is about doing her job for the team. And every player in that dressing room thinks the same about their own role.