Sam Kerr pipped by Bonmati for women’s Ballon d’Or

Matildas down Philippines 8-0 in Olympic qualifier

Matildas captain Sam Kerr has been pipped for world soccer’s top individual prize, finishing second in the Ballon D’Or voting behind Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati.

It is the third time Chelsea and Australia forward Kerr has gone agonisingly close to the prestigious award.

She finished in the top three in 2021 and 2022.

Kerr, 30, was the only Matildas player to finish in the top 10 for the award, with her Australia teammate and Real Madrid winger Hayley Raso ranked 17th by voters.

It came just days after Perth-raised Kerr scored a hat-trick in front of her home fans in Australia’s 8-0 drubbing of the Philippines.

Arsenal star Caitlin Foord also scored a hat-trick in front of a packed Perth crowd in Sunday’s Olympic qualifying match.

The result has all but guaranteed Australia passage into the final round of Olympic qualifying in February, when the Matildas will face an Asian Confederation team in a two-legged play-off.

They will round out the current stage with a match against Taiwan at HBF Park on Wednesday night.

“It was a dream come true,” Kerr said of her hometown treble.

“Even to score one goal, even to play here was a dream come true, so I’m very happy.

“I’d love [the team] to score eight goals every game, but it doesn’t always work like that. It was an amazing performance by the girls.

“The Philippines was the big game [in our group], so we were up for that one.”

She said it had been ‘a long journey … a hard journey” to international stardom.

“You’ve just got to keep at it,” she said.

“Everyone has ups and downs in their career. It’s just a journey. Lots of hard work, lots of sacrifice – maybe missing a friend’s party or two on the weekend.

“You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to be in it.

“I think just getting over those hurdles for me was really important as a young kid.

“I could have given up many times, but I didn’t because I love it. We’re all here now because of the sacrifices and hard work.”

More Messi magic

Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to the World Cup in 2022, won the men’s award for a record-extending eighth time in what was otherwise a relatively mundane season with club side Paris Saint-Germain.

Now with MLS outfit Inter Miami, Messi had previously been awarded the Ballon D’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had,” Messi said.

“Everything that I’ve achieved. The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history.

“To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing.”

The 25-year-old Bonmati enjoyed a fine year for club and country – winning the La Liga Femenina and Champions League double before playing a pivotal role in Spain’s Women’s World Cup success in Australia, where she also won the Golden Ball award for top scorer.

Her Spain and Barcelona teammate Salma Paralluelo was third.

Manchester City was crowned men’s team of the season after Pep Guardiola’s side delivered the treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

City’s Erling Haaland won the Gerd Muller Trophy for the world’s top-scoring striker after hitting a record 56 goals last season.

Aston Villa and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez won the Lev Yashin Trophy for goalkeeper of the year after his starring role in his nation’s World Cup win.

England international Jude Bellingham was voted the Kopa Award winner for the best under-21 player in the world.

Bellingham has hit 13 goals in 13 appearances since moving to Madrid in the summer, including a double to lead Real to victory in his first ‘Clasico’ against Barcelona on Saturday. But his success was for last season – where he shone for Borussia Dortmund and England.

– with AAP

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