Sunday Story: Madison Haley

by Jeremy Walker

Sydney FC’s new U.S. recruit Madison Haley is eager to debut in Sky Blue as the former Stanford University striker reflects on her journey to Sydney ahead of the upcoming 2022/23 Liberty A-League season.

A two-time NCAA College Soccer champion and the daughter of a five-time Super Bowl winner, Haley knows what it means to succeed in the sporting world.

The centre-forward is far from her hometown in Dallas, Texas – but the 23-year-old is settling smoothly into Sydney life.

I want the team to be successful and I want us to win the double

Madison Haley

“Everyone I’ve met so far has been amazing, I’ve already been really enjoying it and it’s been pretty easy to slot in and learn right away,” Haley said.

“The girls have been great in terms of helping me adjust and same with Ante and the rest of the staff.

“I just want to be involved as much as I can to help the team, I want the team to be successful and I want us to win the double.”

The young attacker was the seventh draft pick last year for the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in America.

And prior to being drafted, Haley represented Stanford University in Division 1 of the NCAA championships – the top tier of American women’s college soccer.

“We won in 2017 which was my freshman year at Stanford,” said Haley.


“It was really incredible, it was like life on steroids! We were just so good, genuinely I think our team quote was kind of like ‘we are just better than everyone else!’

“The quality of players we had, you couldn’t pick a better college starting eleven in the country and you felt it. It wasn’t like we were necessarily saying that and verbalising that but you just felt it, going onto the field we were like ‘we are going to win.’”

The Dallas-born forward netted 20 times and grabbed 26 assists in just 76 matches across 2017-2021 at the “Cardinal” as Stanford would seal another NCAA national championship in 2019.

Regarded as one of the world’s top universities for athletics and academics, Stanford has been home to many successful sportspeople and scholars over the years – including John F. Kennedy, Tiger Woods, Mae Jemison and John McEnroe.

Gifted in both the sporting and educational departments, Haley graduated Stanford in June with a master’s in Sustainability Science and Practice – winning four NSCAA All-American awards for her achievements in academics and football.

“If you were to ask any Stanford student-athlete we would probably downplay it!” Haley added. “So I always feel like anyone who goes to Stanford and works really hard and you show up to class and do the work, you’ll do well.

“But I do know how incredibly difficult it is to get into Stanford and how incredibly difficult it is to do well at Stanford as well.

“Trying to balance school and soccer and realising how I can fit in a social life in between these hours and also learn to step away and not put too much pressure on myself … it’s probably one of the most high pressure environments you can be in.

“But I will say everyone there is really supportive; teachers, faculty, students – they really want to help you and also being part of the athletic community … they [Stanford] do such a good job in terms of campus life and just really trying to integrate the community.”


Accustomed to a strong sense of community, Haley is relishing the opportunity to work under Sky Blues Head Coach Ante Juric, whose leadership has helped to foster a unique togetherness amongst the Sydney FC playing group.

Sydney FC Women’s Head Coach Ante Juric

“Ante is great, I got to speak to him before I got here and he was lovely,” Haley explained.

“Before I even met him and saw him in person everyone said such glowing remarks about him … he’s just the kindest soul and a really good coach, a great demeanour, great attitude and he’s very motivating.

“I definitely want to learn from him and try to emulate some of his leadership qualities. He’s not a yeller, he’s not very aggressive or anything, he just talks to you like a person.

“I feel like that gets lost a lot with the coach to player dynamic in lots of sports and so I just really appreciate that too and there’s such mutual respect from players to coach.”

The prolific goalscorer is certain to add a new dimension to Juric’s Sydney side – previously being called-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2019 for her attacking exploits.

Haley scored 11 goals and assisted 14 times in Stanford’s 2019 NCAA winning campaign and has also represented America at U14, U15, U17, and U18 youth levels.

“Of course I still have aspirations to reach the national team again,” Haley said.

“But this is also my first season playing professionally with Sydney, so you have to do well with your club team to hope to make the national team, so my focus for sure is here 100% and you have to let the rest of the stuff work itself out.


“But I follow all the U.S. national team and I feel like now that I’m older I follow it a lot more.

“I’m constantly watching the Premier League, constantly listening to podcasts, I’m constantly following the world of soccer now, it’s like a literal obsession!”

Maturing as a professional footballer, Haley can now better understand the sporting legacy of her father – Charles Haley.

Charles is a Pro Football Hall of Fame member and played American football professionally for the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL – winning a staggering five Super Bowls throughout his career – a feat only bettered by Tom Brady.

“It was really nice as a sports fan having my dad because I got to go to a lot of Dallas Cowboys games and just be around sports,” said Haley.

Charles Haley playing for the Dallas Cowboys
Madison’s father being inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame
Haley is one of the most successful NFL players of all time

“That was really fun as a kid and really cool, I definitely didn’t appreciate it as much, but now that I’m older I’m like ‘that was really cool!’ But as a kid it was all I ever knew so it kind of becomes your new normal.

“All of my siblings played sports growing up, two of my older siblings were in collegiate athletics, my brother played American football and my older sister played soccer in college and I had another sister that did play in college but she’s a nurse now.

“We were always playing sports as kids and my parents, both of them didn’t really care what we played to be honest, my dad wasn’t forcing my brother to play football, wasn’t forcing us to do anything. They just wanted us to be active and have fun and explore.”

With sport running through her veins, Haley is set to bring a competitive edge to the Sydney FC squad for the upcoming 2022/23 A-League season, hungry to add a third consecutive Premiership title for the Sky Blues.

“I’ve felt like I’ve already gotten better here and I’ve only been here a few weeks so that shows the level of the girls and of the staff,” Haley said.

“It’s a little bit different of a style to what I played at Stanford, a lot more pressing … a lot more probably to do off the ball but I’m looking forward to it and I want to be adaptable and be able to play in different setups and systems.

“I think we’re looking forward to a really exciting season.”