Days of flying under the radar are over: Sam Kerr says the World Cup has changed the life of every Matilda for the better


Superstar striker Sam Kerr says the days of her teammates walking down the streets unnoticed are now well and truly over following the Matildas’ fairytale run at the Women’s World Cup.

Kerr has been a global superstar for years and is mobbed by fans wherever she goes.

But it wasn’t the case for most of her Matildas teammates up until recently.

That all changed during the World Cup when even fringe Matildas players became household names.

Mackenzie Arnold was the Matildas’ third-string goalkeeper last year, but she is now etched into Australian sporting folklore following her penalty shootout heroics in the World Cup quarterfinal triumph over France.

Kerr said the World Cup had changed the life of every Matilda for the better.

“I think the biggest change I’ve noticed is probably people like ‘Macca’ – she can’t walk down the street now without someone chasing her down,” Kerr said of Arnold.

“We always used to joke that she used to be one of the ones who could get away with not getting a photo.

“But now she’s getting chased down the street and I see MacKenzie Arnold t-shirts everywhere – ‘brick wall’. 

“So I think things like that have been the biggest change in our team, but it’s all a good thing.”

Scoring in her first game in Perth in four years before a sold out crowd ???? Sam Kerr couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming ????????

And of course, there was an army of young fans waiting to welcome her home at full-time ????#Matildas

— KEEPUP (@keepupau) October 27, 2023

Five years ago, a mere 7549 fans turned out to watch the Matildas defeat Thailand 5-0 at Perth’s HBF Park.

Fast forward to now, and almost 100,000 fans will see the Matildas in action across three Olympic qualifiers in Perth.

A sold-out crowd of 18,798 fans turned out to watch the Matildas beat Iran 2-0 in the group stage opener on Thursday night.

The second game against the Philippines was also meant to be at HBF Park, but it’s now been moved to the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium due to the huge demand for tickets.

Ellie Carpenter celebrates a goal. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

That game has already been sold out, as has next Wednesday’s clash with Taiwan at HBF Park.

The Matildas had the entire nation behind them during the World Cup, and Kerr said the love and warmth played a key role in the team’s performances.

“I think this team – everyone just feels a little bit more confident in themselves because of how the country got behind us,” Kerr said. 

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“We kind of feel like everyone is supporting us and wants us to do well, but then there’s this drive that everyone wants to perform and do well for the country.”

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