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'I'll only have eyes for Ronaldo and van Persie,' reveals Steph's date as she prepares for goal ceremony


Republic of Ireland striker Stephanie Roche

Republic of Ireland striker Stephanie Roche

Dean Zambra

Dean Zambra


Dean Zambra – who plies his trade with Bray Wanderers – has often dreamed of getting up close and personal with football royalty.

But on Monday his dream will come true –  all thanks to that wonder goal scored by his girlfriend, Stephanie Roche.

The couple will be travelling to Zurich for a shoot-out with Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez.

The high-octane goalscorers from Manchester United and Real Madrid will be battling with Ireland’s most famous woman footballer for the  Puskas Goal of the Year award.

“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.

Dean also has had his own – admittedly more low key – claim to fame with a neatly taken goal he put away against Athlone in November.

There was added irony in the fact that what was described as “a sensational strike” in one match report was against a club where his father Gary is a coach.

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

Meanwhile, his now well-known girlfriend 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.