LONDON (AP) — Australia striker Sam Kerr will play for a European club for the first time after Women’s Super League leader Chelsea signed one of the game’s most prolific scorers.
The 26-year-old Kerr joins the London club on the back of scoring 19 goals in 23 games for the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Kerr is not only the all-time leading scorer in the United Sates but also her homeland where she recently played for Perth Glory after splitting her year between two clubs on two continents.
But she is joining Chelsea on a 2-1/2-year contract and is due to start playing in the second half of the WSL season from January when the mid-season transfer window opens.
“The WSL is the best league in Europe,” Kerr said. “I want team success and I don’t want it to come easy. I feel Chelsea have been building something special over the years and I want to be a part of that. I want to lift some trophies.”
Chelsea has a one-point lead over defending champion Arsenal going into Sunday’s sixth game of the WSL campaign against Manchester United.
Kerr is not set to link up with her new teammates until late December. Competition for a starting place up front includes Bethany England, Fran Kirby and Ramona Bachmann.
“The fact she chose Chelsea when she could have gone to any club in the world is a testament to the players and the staff here, because she saw this is the best place for her to grow and take the next step in her career,” Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said. “That’s a wonderful compliment to us all.”
Kerr has scored 38 times for Australia since making her debut at the age of 15. That includes five at her third World Cup in June where she captained Australia in the run to the last-16.
Kerr, the youngest of four siblings, grew up in an Australia rules football family. Her father, Roger, and Daniel, one of her two brothers, played professionally
Kerr started focusing on soccer after she had to stop playing AFL when she was 12 because there was no women’s league for the hard-hitting sport.
With Kerr completing her transfer to England, the Football Association secured a deal for Australian broadcaster Optus Sport to air games from the WSL, which is Europe’s only fully professional women’s football competition.
“This is our first deal in the Asian region and demonstrates the ever-increasing global appeal of the league,” FA senior broadcast manager Tom Gracey said.
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