Malta international Haley Bugeja joins Florida’s Orlando Pride

Haley Bugeja will play professional football in the US after signing with Orlando Pride

Haley Bugeja celebrates a goal with the Malta national team (Photo: Dominic Aquilina)
Haley Bugeja celebrates a goal with the Malta national team (Photo: Dominic Aquilina)

Malta international Haley Bugeja has joined US football club Orlando Pride where she will play with the number seven shirt.

The 18-year-old forward has put pen to paper on an 18-month contract with the Florida-based club that sees her through the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season. The announcement was made by her agency Sports Pro Management and Consultancy and Orlando Pride.

She joins Orlando Pride from Italian Serie A side US Sassuolo, where she had been playing professional football for the past two years.

Bugeja was recently ranked 15th in ESPN’s 21 Best Women Players 21 or Under and was named Number 3 on’s NXGN 2022 – the 20 best wonderkids in women’s football.

“Haley is one of the brightest young talents in the world and we are absolutely thrilled to have her join our club. She has already shown her quality at a high level in Italy and at the international level with Malta, and she is still just scratching the surface of the player that she can become,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said. “She is a constant threat to opposing defences and will be a valuable addition to our group, both in the immediate and moving into the future, as we continue to build and bolster our roster. We are all very excited to see her in Orlando, as a member of our Pride, very soon.”

The Pride joined the NWSL in the 2016 season and play their home games at the 25,500-seat Exploria Stadium which is also home to the men’s team, Orlando City.

Bugeja will be available for selection in the current season, which started in April and ends in October, and again for the 2023 season.

On the international stage, Bugeja represented Malta at the youth and senior levels, earning her first senior cap in 2019 at just 14 years old in a friendly match against Romania.

Bugeja will join the Pride pending the receipt of a P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC), the club said in its announcement on its website.