Sunday 25 September 2016

Stephanie Roche: It has been a stressful time, but I can't wait to play with Sunderland

Published 17/06/2015 | 20:32

Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche has signed for Sunderland
Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche has signed for Sunderland
Stephanie Roche will jet off early next month for pre-season training with American team Houston Dash. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

It has been a crazy, stressful few weeks but I am delighted to be playing football again. Sunderland will be my new home and I can't wait to get back onto the football pitch.

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I feel I have been unfortunate over the last few weeks but this will be a fresh start and I believe things happen for a reason. I am itching to show the club and the fans what I can offer.

The move to Wearside came about while I was trying to figure out my future in America. I had a week-long trail in Boston, but once Sunderland showed such a keen interest in signing me, I always felt it was right to move to the UK.

Before I joined the Houston Dash there was interest from a number of English clubs. A couple of teams got in touch, but I got attracted to the talk of American life and took that option.

It didn't work out and in hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have taken it. Perhaps I should have come straight here, but better late than never.

The Sunderland chairwoman was very keen to bring me to the club and everyone I have met since I had my first training session last week has made me feel at home in my new surroundings.

Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche has signed for Sunderland
Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche has signed for Sunderland

I really enjoyed the first practice. The manager Carlton Fairweather has been first class, I have learned so much already, while the facilities are incredible.

The girls train in the Academy of Light, a state-of-the-art training facility they share with the men.  It's amazing to have such a professional set-up and made my decision to join very easy.

I have signed a deal until the end of the 2016 season with an option for a third year. I'm just so happy just to be back playing.

Sunderland have made a really good start in the FA Women's Super League (FA WSL 1), the highest division of women's football in England. They currently sit in fourth position after six games. Right now there is a mid-season break with the Women's World Cup in progress, but I am hoping to slot into the team and help them further up the table.

I'll be coming home to Ireland for a few days and then it will be back for training on Monday as I gear up for the next fixture against Notts County on July 12th. 

It has been crazy trying to sort my future out and the majority of people have been supportive on my incredible journey, though naturally not everyone has shared the optimism. I don't really care about those who have made negative comments on social media or elsewhere since I left Houston.

Stephanie Roche will jet off early next month for pre-season training with American team Houston Dash. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Stephanie Roche will jet off early next month for pre-season training with American team Houston Dash. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

It is only from people who don't know me and have only heard of Stephanie Roche because of that goal. Then all of a sudden I was released from Houston, so I understand where people are coming from.

That goal for Peamount United has provided me with the opportunity to become a professional footballer, but I am more than just one wonder strike.

Read more: 'I can't wait to get started' – Ireland international Stephanie Roche signs for Sunderland

I have scored some very important goals for Ireland in the past, important goals for Peamount, I have scored cup-winning goals and league-winning goals, but people don't seem to care about that as they didn't grab the same attention.

I want to keep my head down, train hard and hopefully people who know their football will also see that.

Let the next chapter in my career begin.

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