Football pays tribute to Sheffield United player Maddy Cusack

Sheffield United’s players all had shirts sporting Maddy Cusack’s name and the number she wore as tributes were paid to the Sheffield United footballer at an emotional Bramall Lane on Sunday.

The midfielder’s death aged 27 has left the Premier League club devastated. Supporters delivered their own eulogy, chanting: “Maddy Cusack, she’s one of our own” during the fixture against Newcastle United.

A minute’s silence was also held along with two separate rounds of applause, the first 10 minutes before kick-off with Cusack’s mum Deborah and sister Liv joining women’s team captain Sophie Barker and United ambassador Tony Currie in the centre circle. The second came on eight minutes to mark the number she wore in more than 100 appearances for the Yorkshire club.

Cusack’s cause of death has not been disclosed.

Flags were flown at half-mast as a mark of respect, while the front page of the matchday programme featured a photo of Cusack, who worked for the club as a marketing executive and was a familiar face in the press box on a matchday.

Newcastle United also paid their own tribute when director Amanda Staveley laid a wreath outside the main stand before kick-off. It joined a host of other tributes, including a shirt pinned to a barrier with the message “We’ll love and miss you forever, Mads”.

Wreaths outside Bramall Lane this afternoon (The Athletic/Richard Sutcliffe)

Supporters also held up a series of homemade banners, while a video of her playing for United was also shown on the big screen.

Sunday’s emotional scenes at the Lane followed similar marks of respect in the wider football world.

A minute’s silence had been held before Friday’s UEFA Nations League match between England and Scotland at the Stadium of Light. Both sets of players also sported black armbands in honour of Cusack, a one-time England youth international.

The following afternoon, Lucy Quinn paid tribute to her former Birmingham team-mate during the Republic of Ireland’s 3-0 win over Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. She had ‘MC #8’ taped to her wrist when scoring one of the goals in front of 36,000 fans.

Two Women’s National League fixtures were postponed: Burnley versus Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest against Liverpool Feds. Cusack started her career at Forest, while several of Burnley’s players are from the Sheffield area so knew her well. A minute’s silence was held before all the other games in the competition.

Before joining Sheffield United in 2019, Cusack also played for Birmingham and Aston Villa.

Social media had been full of tributes, too, with the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association among those paying their respects.

A host of Cusack’s team-mates also took to Twitter and Instagram to express their sadness.

Billy Sharp, the former United striker who now plays for LA Galaxy, published a photo of him and Maddy celebrating at the Lane following promotion.

Billy Sharp

Speaking before Sunday’s match against Newcastle, United manager Paul Heckingbottom paid his own tribute.

“In my time here, Maddy’s been a big part of everything,” Heckingbottom said, having worked with the academy before stepping up to the top job. “A senior figure amongst the women’s team and a senior figure amongst the media team as well, so everyone would see her about all the time.

“It’s tough and we need to make sure everyone’s OK at the club and we all support each other. Sad, sad news.”

(Top photo: George Wood/Getty Images)

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