England and Scotland players pay tribute to Sheffield United’s Maddy Cusack
England and Scotland players paid tribute to Sheffield United’s Maddy Cusack, who has died aged 27, during their Women’s Nations League match on Friday night.
The midfielder, named the club’s vice-captain last month, had just started her sixth season with the Blades in the Women’s Championship and was the longest-serving player in their squad.
Both England and Scotland wore black armbands and a period of silence was impeccably observed prior to kick-off at the Stadium of Light.
Sheffield United’s men’s manager Paul Heckingbottom earlier said the club was “suffering” following Cusack’s death.
The Blades intend to pay tribute to Cusack, who also worked in the club’s marketing department, during Sunday’s Premier League clash with Newcastle.
Heckingbottom said: “First and foremost everyone’s thoughts are with Maddy’s friends and family, a lot of Maddy’s friends work at this football club.
“Maddy, especially in my time here, has been a big part of everything, a senior figure among the women’s team and the media team as well.
“Everyone would see her about all the time. It’s tough and we need to make sure everyone is OK at the club and we all support each other because it is sad, sad news.
“(Chief executive) Steve Betts called me yesterday and it knocked me back a bit, I’ll admit. As much as we are preparing for a huge, huge game and wanting to get on with everything, it has affected a lot of people.
“Maddy has been to so many people in the club, there are a lot of people suffering and feeling it, without a doubt.
“We look after everyone here, but first and foremost we are thinking of Maddy’s family. And we send them our best.”
Cusack’s picture will appear on the front of the club programme and players will wear black armbands, while discussions are ongoing over other possible tributes.
“There are plans and discussions going off for a tribute, we want to be very respectful to Maddy’s family as well and make sure they are heavily involved and understand what we want to do,” Heckingbottom added.
“As much as we want to show our respect and thoughts and how we are feeling we want to make sure her family lead on it.”
The Football Association is also in contact with the Blades over an appropriate tribute.
Billy Sharp, the former captain of United’s men’s team, paid his own tribute to Cusack on social media.
“Such a lovely girl. Enjoyed some amazing times with Maddy and the Blades. Such a sad loss. RIP Maddy,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out also said it was “deeply saddened” by the news of her death.
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