Maddy Cusack's mother says she suffered 'pressure' juggling two jobs

Maddy Cusack’s mother says she suffered with ‘way too much pressure’ of juggling two jobs while being paid just £6,000 a year in women’s football, after Sheffield United’s vice-captain died aged just 27

  • Family previously shared that her spirit had been ‘broken by football’ in speech
  • Both of the Blades’ senior teams paid tribute to Cusack following her death 
  • Pressure is easing on Man United boss Erik ten Hag: Listen to It’s All Kicking Off

The mother of Maddy Cusack has spoken about her daughter’s concerns over the future of her career as a footballer and her feeling of it being ‘threatened’ in the wake of the 27-year-old’s tragic death in September. 

Cusack was Sheffield United’s vice-captain and longest-serving player before she died at her home in Horsley, Derbyshire, on September 20, but in a speech by her mother Deborah at her October memorial later shared on social media, the family claimed that her spirit was ‘allowed to be broken’ by football. 

At the time, Derbyshire Police said that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her passing.  

Mail Sport reported on Monday that the family have said that Sheffield United has opened an investigation into the circumstances that they believe may have contributed to Cusack’s death. 

In discussion with BBC Breakfast in her first public interview since the tragedy, Deborah stated that the investigation had come about at the family’s request. 

The mother of Maddy Cusack, Deborah (left) has described the pressure of women’s football in her first public interview in the wake of her daughter’s death

Deborah called life without her daughter ‘unimaginable’ and ‘unbearable’ on BBC Breakfast 

Cusack was Sheffield United’s vice-captain and longest-serving player after joining in 2019

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‘She became Miss Sheffield United, they labelled her Miss Sheffield United,’ Deborah shared of her daughter’s relationship with the club she joined in 2019. 

‘She fell in love with the city, she fell in love with the fans, she fell in love with the whole place, and she found her home there, yes she did,’ Deborah added. 

But as in an additional statement shared on Monday, Deborah added that there had been a shift in her daughter’s attitude and well-being since February of this year. 

‘She worried about her career in football,’ Deborah continued. ‘Because football to her was everything. To have that threatened in any way shape or form hurt. 

‘Her spirit was broken. That’s the best way that I can describe it to you.’ 

Previously, Cusack’s family had stressed that ‘those who knew Maddy well will be aware that she had no long-standing mental health issues or trouble.’

They described her as ‘at her happiest’ over the Christmas period of 2022, but added: ‘this all changed gradually from February this year.’ 

Deborah continued: ‘Sheffield United. Last year their players were part-time, which means they all had full-time jobs, and played three times a week, played on Sunday, often travelled on a Saturday to play on a Sunday. For minimal amount of money. I think Madeleine was on £6,000 a year to play football. 

‘So these girls are having to juggle two jobs, they’re having to train and behave like male athletes for miniscule (percentage) of the amount of the money they get, it’s too much, the pressures are way too much.’ 

As per the BBC, Sheffield United can neither confirm nor deny the investigation is ongoing, but the club has stated that they are offering full support to the Cusack family.  

Deborah went on to call life without her daughter ‘unimaginable.’ 

‘Unbearable. it’s just unimaginable. 

‘We did a memorial with Sheffield United at the Newcastle match and I walked on the pitch and we were applauded by 40,000 fans,’ Deborah continued. 

‘I did that because I had to show the world that I was proud of every single thing that Madeleine did. She achieved more in her 27 years than a lot of people do in a lifetime.’

Her sister Felicia called her ‘a role model’ and admitted that she had always looked up to her sister, whilst her brother Richard singled her out as a ‘fierce competitor’. 

On Monday, the Cusack family shared a speech read at her memorial which spoke of her spirit being ‘broken’ amidst the pressures of the sport

Clubs in the WSL and Premier League (pictured) paid tribute to Cusack following her passing

Sheffield United fans left floral tributes and messages at Bramall Lane in honor of the No 8

Her game was ‘all about being strong’, he added. ‘She was a very proud person’. 

The family have started a charity in their daughter’s name, the Maddy Cusack Foundation, with the aim of fundraising to purchase football boots for girls keen to play the game. 

‘For Madeleine every Christmas we had to have a ball under the Christmas tree and every year she had a brand new pair of boots,’ Deborah added. 

‘You know football boots, they’re not the most inexpensive thing to buy and if we can possibly provide some young girls with them to help them on their way Maddy would have loved that, so that’s what we’d like to do.’


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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