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Thursday 20 June 2019

She's got the whole world at her feet

Stephanie Roche pictured with her grandmother Mamie. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Stephanie Roche pictured with her grandmother Mamie. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Aisling Crowe

The legs that caught the attention of the world's most famous footballers are covered in goosebumps. Their owner bravely ignores the icy air as she smiles for the camera, responding to instructions to pose in ways alien to Stephanie Roche.

Her cousin Niall, brother Paul and father Fergus - willing photographer's assistants for the day - joke and offer advice. It helps distract from the freezing cold and keeps the smile on her face - but the beam that lit up Zurich, and shines in her granny's sitting room, has never been far away.

The last week has been a whirlwind for Irish football's golden girl. From her starring role in Zurich back to reality in the Irish training camp in Spain, whisked straight from the airport to the Late Late Show studio. Yesterday was her first time home among her family and friends since she wowed Ronaldo and Messi.

Newly single Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo hasn't texted the 25-year-old or followed her on Twitter... yet, she confirms: "His girlfriend wasn't at the awards ceremony with him."

She laughs. "That had nothing to do with me. I don't want to get in trouble for that. All my friends sent me messages with that picture, it was unbelievable."

Stylists, make-up artist Michelle Regazzoli, Ceira Lambert her hairdresser and Helen Cody, the designer responsible for her stunning wardrobe, are now in Roche's orbit. The Puskas nomination has brought the footballer into a completely new realm, one that she would like to explore as long as it doesn't interfere with her footballing career.

"People have said to me that I would be offered different things after the photos, maybe in fashion. I never thought about that before, but I'd definitely be open to it - as long as it was the right fit. Away from football I'm quite a girly girl. Dean's delighted because I can be shy, but this has helped bring me out of myself a bit."

Bright, bubbly and warm in spite of her frozen feet, she is just happy to be finally at home and able to enjoy the welcome home party laid on for her by Brady's of Shankill, the pub that hosted the Ballon d'Or celebrations last Monday.

In Zurich she was getting pictures from home of the party and, surrounded by glitz and razzmatazz that beggared belief, she wished to be home in the mayhem of her local.

She is still under contract in France - but the club president and manager have assured her there will be no hassle in releasing her.

An offer or two have come already come her way, now she has to ensure she makes the right choices.

For the girl with the golden smile has the football world at her feet.

Sunday Independent

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