Friday 22 November 2019

Steph's date will only have eyes for his heroes

By Mark O'Regan

FIFA Goal of the Year contender Stephanie Roche is leaving her French club due to homesickness.

In July, the Dubliner signed for French club Albi - but last night her team manager said she had decided to leave.

"She has benefited so much from her success. She has had other offers from richer clubs," David Welferinger said.

"This is normal, we're not going to hold her back."

French reports said Roche was "homesick" and struggled with the language barrier.

Roche will find out on Monday if she has beaten international stars Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez to land the FIFA Puskas award for the goal she scored for Peamount United against Wexford Youths.

Her boyfriend Dean Zambra, also a professional footballer, yesterday joked he would like to be the one picking up the award.

"I scored one against Athlone this year so I keep saying I should have been nominated ahead of her," said the Bray Wanderers player.

But he good humouredly accepts it wasn't in the van Persie, Rodriguez - or Stephanie class.


The couple will be travelling to Zurich for the awards ceremony.

"It's a bit weird going over," said Dean.

But he insisted Stephanie is there "on merit" and they will both enjoy meeting van Persie given they are both Manchester United fans.

Meanwhile, Stephanie said she is most looking forward to meeting Cristiano Ronaldo at next week's FIFA awards.

"I'm a huge United fan and he used to play for them and I have followed him since he went to Real Madrid."

And she says she's not particularly nervous facing into such a prestigious awards.

"I wouldn't say nervous, more excited. It's been a great journey for me so far. As everyone has said it's been a great achievement.

"I'm just looking forward to the awards now and I'm not going to lie, I'd like to win it."

Dean says he has to put up with a bit of ribbing from his girlfriend, whose goal became an international internet sensation, when she slags him about not hitting the net more often.

"She has 75 in the last three years, I have about three," he said. But he insists he is a good judge of firepower on the football field - and as far as he is concerned Stephanie's volley is better than anything van Persie or Rodriguez have to offer on this occasion.


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