Friday 20 October 2017

Striking Stephanie's last-minute dash to FIFA award ceremony

Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A last-minute trip to the hairdressers left soccer star Stephanie Roche dashing to Dublin's airport.

The 25-year-old flew out to Zurich yesterday ahead of tonight's prestigious FIFA's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Roche will go up against Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez for the coveted Puskas award for her spectacular strike for Peamount United against Wexford Youths.

As she collected her boarding card she was starting to feel the nerves. "Now I've said goodbye to my family and got my tickets I'm feeling more excited. I got a bit emotional leaving the house," she said.

"But I think once I'm at the awards it'll hit me."

The Republic of Ireland's women's international will walk the red carpet in a bespoke pink dress by Irish designer Helen Cody - who made Amy Huberman's 2014 IFTA gown.

"I've left the dress in the capable hands of my dad to bring over so hopefully he won't lose it," she said.

The Shankill native will attend the ceremony with her boyfriend Dean Zambra and wrote her potential acceptance speech on the flight to Switzerland. "I have a few things in my head but I'll jot them down when I'm on the plane," she said.

"It would be fantastic to be the first Irish person and the first woman to win but I've done so well to get this far."

After all of the high-octane glamour of the awards Roche will fly to La Manga to join the Irish women's football team for an intensive training camp.

"I have a training camp coming up directly after the awards so will be travelling out straight away," she said.

Close to six million people have watched the grainy footage of Roche's goal. "It's about a beautiful goal and it's a fantastic achievement," she said.

Asked if it had delivered monetary gains, she replied: "People keep talking about all the money I should have made off it. I haven't made anything but that doesn't matter. All I am focused on is the Puskas, that's my goal."

Irish Independent

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