Tuesday 14 August 2018

'I thought it might have been a wind-up' - 13-year-old sensation gets call-up to Ireland tactical training camp

Jessie Stapleton from Cherry Orchard FC has been called up to the Ireland women's senior team. Image credit: Cherry Orchard FC.
Jessie Stapleton from Cherry Orchard FC has been called up to the Ireland women's senior team. Image credit: Cherry Orchard FC.
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Remember the name Jessie Stapleton.

The old cliché of a female footballer being good enough to play with the boys doesn't apply here - Stapleton broke down that barrier years ago and is looking to tick achievments off her footballing checklist at a pace that Freddy Adu threatened as a precocious teenager.

The Dubliner is only barely into her teenage years herself but has already amassed an impressive CV - not least that the 13-year-old became the first female to play in the Dublin & District Schoolboys League when she joined Cherry Orchard in 2013.

An Ireland U15 cap followed - at just 12 years of age - and now amazingly just one year later she has been handed a call-up to join home-based members of the Irish senior team and other youth players at next week's tactical training camp in Abbotstown.

It has been an incredible rise for one of Irish youth football's most touted prospects - male or female - and speaking to Independent.ie, Jessie's father Noel couldn't conceal his delight.

"Jessie is very quiet but I don't mind doing this!," he joked.

"I was blown away when I got the text. I thought it might have been a wind-up or that they had forgot to put the age group in the text."

When it comes to describing her style of play, Jessie's dad proves himself to be an able hype man. In a unique juxtaposition, Noel says that although his daughter is a 'not a tomboy',  he thinks she shares an innate likeness to a powerhouse German central midfielder from Die Mannschaft's World Cup-winning heyday - in play and potential.

"She reminds me of Lothar Matthäus, she has that German build," he says.

Even if she does impress next week with the senior team, Stapleton is unable to win a senior cap until she turns 16, so she has another three years to hone her skills and grow before being considered to wear a green jersey at the highest level.

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