Stephanie Roche: I can’t believe it is 12 months since the Ballon d’Or ceremony
It’s already been a busy start to the New Year and watching the recent Ballon d’Or awards ceremony reminded me what a hectic year 2015 was.
We’re back in pre-season training with Sunderland and I’ll be returning to America as Ireland take on the world champions at the end of the month, but I appreciate it will be difficult to top everything that happened in the last 12 months.
Watching Lionel Messi pick up his fifth award and Cristiano Ronaldo have to settle for third, it was hard to believe I was sitting with them a year ago, which set off a sequence of events I could never have predicted.
It was an amazing year, a rollercoaster of emotions with so many ups and downs. People have asked me would I change anything that happened, and I can honestly say no.
Everything that happened, from being released from Houston to joining high-flying Sunderland, has shaped my life. I've had to deal with so many changes, most notably dealing with both praise and criticism. Unquestionably it’s helped me become a better person.
After a great Christmas at home with family and friends it is firmly back to business, with pre-season now in full swing.
I feel much more at home now and with half a season under my belt, and I am determined to really make my mark for the upcoming campaign. I’m comfortable with my team, their style of play and the requirements of the WSL1.
On the international front, I can’t wait for our matches against the world champions USA as well as their U-23 side.
It will be our first run out since we lost to Spain in November and facing a team of the calibre of the Americans can only be beneficial for us.
We play USA on January 23rd in San Diego and the USA U-23s two days later in Los Angeles.
Away from football, I will be making an appearance on TV shortly. I will have more details next week, but it will be Stephanie Roche like you have never seen before!