“I can’t believe we did it, we finally did it.”
The relief in Nat Tobin’s voice was clear at the end of an incredible 97 minutes that delivered Sydney FC a Liberty A-League Championship on Sunday evening.
This was Sydney’s inspirational centurion and a captain, who was at the heart of three consecutive Grand Final losses before the Sky Blues emphatically snapped that drought with a 4-0 rout of Western United.
The case of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride changed at CommBank Stadium, where the three-time reigning premiers secured a record-equalling fourth Liberty A-League Championship and first since 2019.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s outstanding. It’s amazing. So incredible. These girls, it’s such a special group,” Tobin told Network 10.
Sydney were featuring in a sixth consecutive Grand Final, but they were coming off three consecutive Grand Final defeats and a frustrating 1-0 loss to Western United in the Semi Final.
Tobin was on target in front of a record crowd of more than 9,000 supporters as a Madison Haley double and a Princess Ibini penalty secured the first Premiership-Championship double since Melbourne City in 2016.
“Those last three Grand Final losses especially last year, where we were the better team,” she said.
“They were so heart-breaking. Absolutely heart-breaking but today, it’s just elation.”
Sunday’s result showed lessons were learnt from the Semi Final between the two same teams in Sydney.
The Sky Blues were outmuscles and overpowered against Western at Allianz Stadium, but Sydney turned the tables on the newest team on the block.
“This feeling is fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it. We’ve been waiting for this for three years now,” Cortnee Vine, who shook off an ankle problem, told Network 10.
“I think an important thing we did today was match the physical battle. I feel like the last game we played them, we struggled in that department,” she added.
“That kind of intimidated us a little bit. Made us a little less composed too but this game we stepped up.”
It also added to a stellar year in the Vine household, with the Matildas star adding more silverware to her collection.
After winning February’s Cup of Nations, she is now a Championship winner ahead of July’s FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil.
“Not a bad year at all. A good start to the year I think. A Cup of Nations with the Matildas and now a double with Sydney FC,” Vine smiled.
“Hopefully it’s good voodoo for the World Cup.”
‘You can’t coach against a gene pool’
Madison Haley is an NFL Hall of Famer and five-time Super Bowl winner.
She is now a Premiership and Championship victor with Sydney FC after her match-winning exploits in Sunday’s final.
A brace saw the star American crowned Player of the Match as the Sky Blues ended their Grand Final curse.
“You can’t coach against a gene pool and her father is a five-time Super Bowl winner,” Network 10 analyst Andy Harper said.
“This is freakish, God-given athletic talent.”
For the player herself, who is owned by Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), she joked post-game: “I was hoping for a hat-trick but a brace I’ll settle with.”
Haley and rampant Sydney were too hot to handle for Western, and the 24-year-old insisted the team never had any doubts after being edged out by their opponents previously.
“Honestly, I don’t think we really talked about it. We always had that self-belief and confidence,” said Haley.
“It was kind of settling our self-doubts. We never really lost that belief. We knew we’re a team that creates chances.
“What a special day. Four goals, that’s what we were looking for.”