Australian Hayley Raso has signed for Spanish giants Real Madrid after her contract at English side Manchester City ended in June. She will therefore become the first player in history from her nation to play for the club.
Only four Australian men have ever played for Spanish top flight clubs – Aurelio Vidmar, John Aloisi, Matthew Ryan and currently Awer Mabil – but none for the country’s two historical giants, Madrid or FC Barcelona. Raso is now set to become the first Australian, and the first-ever player from the Asian confederation to turn out for the Real Madrid first team.
Raso is currently training with the Australian women’s national team ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup which they will co-host with New Zealand. On Monday, the experienced Raso was chosen to play in a third successive tournament having been selected in Tony Gustavsson’s 23-player squad for the finals.
In May, Raso announced she would be leaving Manchester City at the end of her two-year contract. In her time there, the winger played in 47 matches, scoring nine goals, most notably the equalizing goal in the 2022 Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium which took a thrilling match against Chelsea into extra-time.
In the second season at the club, Raso saw her first-team opportunities restricted by the inspired form of England’s UEFA Women’s Euro winning goalscorer, Chloe Kelly, who was injured for most of Raso’s first campaign. Even though she made more appearances in the past season, the majority were as a substitute and she started only one league game.
The English side failed to qualify for next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League after they finished fourth in the Barclays Women’s Super League. In both her seasons at the club, Manchester City were eliminated from the qualifying stages of the Champions League by her new employers. Last season, Real Madrid finished second in the Spanish league and will enter the UEFA Women’s Champions League Round 2 qualifying stage.
Raso made her Manchester City debut in August 2021 away to Real Madrid, a match in which Scotland international Caroline Weir scored for City. Weir joined Madrid the next summer and Raso will now be reunited with the Scot who has inherited the club’s number 10 shirt after scoring 28 goals in all competitions for them in her first season.
In 2021, Raso, the youngest of three siblings brought up a single mother, released a children’s book to raise money for HeartKids after her brother Lachlan was born with a congenital heart condition and forced to undergo open-heart surgery in 2015.
The eponymous book, entitled Hayley’s Ribbon, is about a shy girl given a ribbon which gave her the strength and freedom to play the game. Raso’s own grandmother Patricia had always given the young Hayley ribbons to use in her hair to match the kit she played in.
Now 28, Raso admits “I kind of am known for it now and it’s become my trademark.” So much so that last week, the Australian federation released a set of Raso-branded ribbons and hair-pins. The ribbons flew off the shelves and are currently out of stock. With the Brisbane-born player now set to turn out for ‘Los Meringues’ it is time for Patricia to supply her famous granddaughter with a new set of white ribbons for her to play in next season in the Spanish capital.