Matildas star Chloe Logarzo has opened up on her crushing World Cup blow as she reveals she cried her way through the team’s warm-up win over France – while Sam Kerr’s mentor has revealed her initial worries about the captain’s leadership.
The desperately unlucky Logarzo just missed out on a spot in Tony Gustavsson’s World Cup squad after a string of injuries following a serious knee ailment in September 2021 left her unable to prove her fitness.
Instead, she will be appearing as an expert on Optus Sport’s broadcast of the World Cup – though she did admit it may be quite the teary tournament as she grapples with the devastating blow of not playing.
Oxtoby, who is a West Australian native like Kerr, played alongside her at the Perth Glory when the Matildas skipper debuted as a precocious 15-year-old.
She was later assistant coach at the Glory and Australian under 20s side for three years while Kerr’s star continued to rise as a young prodigy with the world at her feet.
Sam Kerr (right, pictured with Matildas teammates Caitlin Foord [left] and Mackenzie Arnold [right]) didn’t always seem like she’d be an incredible leader, according to her mentor
Kerr (left, pictured with Ellie Carpenter [right]) has a wicked sense of humour and is the one that always brings the energy to the side on and off the field
(L-R) Long-time Kerr mentor Tanya Oxtoby, Matildas star Chloe Logarzo and Aussie greats Heather Garriock and Sarah Walsh will be some of the big names in Optus’ World Cup broadcasts
So if anyone has insight into the that is the rise and rise to global stardom of Kerr, it’s Oxtoby.
While her natural talent and exceptional skill was obvious at an early age, Oxtoby explained that she wasn’t always sure that the affable and cheeky Kerr would grow into a good leader.
The Matildas superstar always plays with a wide smile on her face with youthful exuberance as her fierce competitiveness always threatens to boil over.
She’s now Australia’s heart and soul player, captain and dressing room leader, respected by everyone and always in the middle of any harmless mischief-making or off-field activity.
But according to Oxtoby, she didn’t believe initially that would be the case.
Oxtoby, who was assistant coach at the Glory in 2014 (pictured is Kerr [right] tussling with fellow Matilda Elise Kellond-Knight [left] in that season), said she couldn’t quite imagine Kerr growing into the leader she is today
‘I think consistently she is still the young kid just enjoying playing the game and you see that in the way she goes about things,’ she said.
‘At training, she’s the one that brings the energy. She’s the one that lifts when you’re kind of going through that grind. For three games a week, for four weeks in a row, she’s the one that brings the energy. So that hasn’t changed
‘But I think, in terms of her application and her professionalism, she’s grown massively.
‘For me, just seeing her be able to guide some of the younger players (at Chelsea) that come through is probably an area I wouldn’t have guessed would be a strength when I first met her.
‘She’s definitely got some patience, but she also leads them astray a little bit as well. So I’m just going to try and keep her on the right track.’
Of course for all the joy there is for those involved in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in a home World Cup and galvanise an entire nation; there is heartbreak too.
Veteran Elise Kellond-Knight ruptured her achilles in March, immediately giving her no chance of featuring. Instead, she will be an expert host on Channel 7’s coverage of the World Cup.
And then there is the luckless Logarzo. The 54-cap midfielder has had a wretched time of it since tearing her ACL in a friendly against Ireland in September 2021. While the operation was initially successful, it led to a long range of complications that have combined to rob the talented, hard-running midfielder of a spot in the squad.
A devastated Chloe Logarzo is consoled by Tony Gustavsson after the leaving the field in the semi-final against Sweden in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo
It has been a string of injuries since Logarzo went down, clutching her knee and writhing in pain in a friendly against Ireland in September, 2021. It was later confirmed she had ruptured her ACL
The luckless Logarzo also suffered a serious ankle injury during a Matildas win over Vietnam in March 2020
While devastated not to be on the pitch, Logarzo said she is happy to feature as an expert for Optus’s coverage of the World Cup
A Gustavsson favourite, in the years and months since, while Logarzo’s injured knee fully healed, her other leg struggled to catch up, and suffered a range of debilitating injuries like plantar fasciitis.
The Western United A-League captain could not get enough regular games as niggles continued to deny her time on the pitch, leaving her with too big a mountain to climb to be fit enough for the World Cup, despite being named in the provisional squad by Gustavsson.
Instead, like Kellond-Knight, she will instead be providing expert comment for Optus Sports’ coverage, which will be showing all 64 World Cup games. It’s a great step for someone who is so assured in front of a camera, but it’s clear that despite wanting to take the opportunity with both hands, it is not where she wants to be.
The 28-year-old, who has worked on broadcasts during injury time-outs in the past, said if watching Australia’s 1-0 warm-up win over France in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 50,000 fans in Melbourne is anything to go by, it may be a tough tournament.
‘I will say that there will probably be some tears (during the World Cup),’ said the typically forthright Logarzo at the brand-new Optus Sports studio that will be the nerve centre for the World Cup broadcasts.
‘I was crying a lot against France, but I was saying to the girls, I don’t have to wish them luck, because I know the work that they’ve put in.
‘I think everyone knows that this isn’t where I would want to be … but I’m excited to be playing a part, no matter what part it is, in this in this in this role (on TV). I’m going to take it in my stride.’
Australia’s quest for a fairytale World Cup title on home soil begins this Thursday against Ireland at 8pm from Sydney Olympic Park.