Stephanie Roche joins Republic of Ireland WNT in La Manga
FIFA Puskás Award runner-up Stephanie Roche flew out of Zurich to join up with her Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team colleagues at their Winter Training Camp in La Manga.
After a magical evening on Monday at the Ballon d’Or where she rubbed shoulders with some of the most well-known figures in world football, Roche admitted that she was looking forward to swapping her stilettos for a pair of football boots.
“It’s been a fantastic experience since I was first nominated for the Puskás Award and I really enjoyed last night’s event despite not winning. It was incredible to get over one million votes and I really am grateful to everybody who voted for me and supported me,” said Roche.
“I can’t wait to join up with the Irish squad in La Manga, get my gear on and get on the pitch. It is a great opportunity for me to just focus totally on football for the next few days. We haven’t been together as a squad since September so I am really looking forward to being back in with all the girls.”
A warm welcome will await Roche when she finally arrives at the squad’s Spanish base according to defender Megan Campbell.
“We all sat down and watched the Ballon d’Or together on Monday evening and it was very exciting to see Stephanie on the red carpet and then hear her name being called out during the programme. It was a proud moment for all of us to hear “Republic of Ireland” after her name and while we were disappointed that she didn’t win it, it was still a phenomenal achievement by her to become the first woman to reach the final three. We are all looking forward to welcoming her in tonight and getting the inside story of what happened!” said Campbell.
Manager Sue Ronan is also looking forward to welcoming in the 25-year-old who scored three goals for the National Team in 2015, two of which were winners against Switzerland and Slovakia.
“It’s been a very busy time for Stephanie and she has been a great ambassador for Ireland and women’s football. I still believe it was the best goal because of the unbelievable technique involved but her achievement in coming second and polling 1.1 million votes cannot be underestimated. Clearly an awful lot of people around the world liked it,” said Ronan.
“We are looking forward to getting her into the camp and I am sure she is looking forward to tomorrow, even though she faces a fitness test and a double training session. She is very committed to her football and will enjoy being able to lace up her boots and get back on the pitch again,” added Ronan.