Sunday 21 July 2019

Stephanie Roche: Our first apartment, first car and fighting for the is good at Sunderland

Stephanie Roche and boyfriend Dean Zambra
Stephanie Roche and boyfriend Dean Zambra
Republic of Ireland international Stephanie Roche has signed for Sunderland

Stephanie Roche

It's amazing how quickly you can settle when you are happy on and off the pitch.

With just three league games left in the season we are still very much in the hunt for the league, currently sitting in second place just three points adrift of leaders Chelsea. With the top two qualifying for the Champions League, it is an exciting finish to the campaign.

Away from the pitch I am really finding my feet in Sunderland. Since I moved over, my boyfriend Dean and I have moved into a new apartment. It is the first time we have had our own place, but we have been together such a long time that it is an easy adjustment.

Another player who joined the club at around the same time as I did, Norwegian goalkeeper Hilde Gun Olson, is my next door neighbour. The girls were giving us a hard time saying we moved into the middle of nowhere but we both agree we picked the right apartment.

Read more: Stephanie Roche eyes league title as Sunderland look to keep pressure on table toppers Chelsea

We've also just bought our first car together. I don't actually drive so Dean has been doing all the driving, but I do have my first lesson later this week.

While we both have busy schedules, we do try to make as much time as possible for each other. We like to go out for a meal, check out the latest films and get out and see more of our new environment.

There are a few golf clubs around the area so we plan to get out for a round at some stage, but I have to admit that a big vice is retail therapy. There is a large shopping centre in Newcastle that we go to quite a bit.

I have a slight shopping addiction so that can be dangerous!

Not only am I loving life in the North-East, my family are too. My dad and his girlfriend have been over quite a bit along with my brother Paul and they can't get enough of the place. They love watching me play and are delighted to see Sunderland doing well.

Within the squad environment I feel at ease with all the girls, though I am a quiet person on the pitch. I'm not one for giving out to referees, I'd be more inclined to get on with things than try argue my point with match officials. I'm not one of the louder voices in the changing room so my team-mates took a while to get used to me and I felt I needed to gain their respect initially with my performances on the pitch.

Read more: Stephanie Roche: Thank God I haven't had to sing in front of the squad yet

It's different with the Ireland team where I have been involved in the set-up for eight years. The Irish girls know me well enough that if I did raise my voice to someone on the team, it's strictly football and nothing personal. At Sunderland the girls are only beginning to get to know me.

During a training session during the first few weeks I was at the club, I was really frustrated during one particular drill and shouted, at myself rather than anyone else. The girls were cracking up laughing as they said I was so quiet generally on the pitch they were shocked with my mini-outburst!

I have only been at the club a short while, but it feels much longer such has been the transition to life in England. It would be fantastic to cap my first season with silverware and it certainly won't be from the lack of trying as we battle at the top of the table.

The season finale promises to be a rollercoaster.

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