'I’m in love with the game:' Stephanie Roche talks honeymoon, wedding, women in sport, and Cork

'Playing for my country and making my debut is probably always going to be the proudest moment of my life,' says the 33-year-old
'I’m in love with the game:' Stephanie Roche talks honeymoon, wedding, women in sport, and Cork

Stephanie Roche has just returned from her honeymoon but is "straight back into work with a bang"

Irish footballer Stephanie Roche is fresh off the plane from her honeymoon when I chat with her about today's trip to Cork. She married her boyfriend of 15 years and fellow footballer, Dean Zambra, in June of this year — days before she headed over to Britain for the UEFA Women's Euro.

The pair enjoyed two weeks in Dubai and Thailand before once again, 33-year-old Stephanie was straight back into work.

“It’s literally been all go since I got back. Straight back into work with a bang,” she says.

“We got married during the season which was something we thought about. We always wanted a summer wedding and we were kind of thinking 'will we wait until this year to do it or will we wait until the off-season' but we went ahead with the wedding but the honeymoon then was put on hold until the end of the season.” 

Just two days before the Wicklow wedding, the Dubliner tells me she was also in Turkey and Georgia with the Irish team so as she says, there was a “bit of a rush on” to get home in time for the final preparations.

“But we had a great time. We had a great day with family and friends,” she adds.

Stephanie Roche on her wedding day at Tlfarris House and Golf resort. Picture: @stephanieroche9/ Instagram
Stephanie Roche on her wedding day at Tlfarris House and Golf resort. Picture: @stephanieroche9/ Instagram

Since the wedding, the sporting star has been settling into married life and while she is still getting used to calling Zambra her husband and not her boyfriend, the couple has another milestone in mind.

“Like most young couples in Ireland, we’re trying to get a house at the moment so that’s kind of our next thing on the list. We’re looking to try and put ourselves in a position where we can get somewhere that we can move on to the next stage of our lives I suppose.” 

The RTÉ pundit has had plenty of career highlights, not to mention her nomination for the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award for that very famous goal in 2013. As runner-up for the best goal of the year, Roche was the first woman to be nominated for the awards which saw her rubbing shoulders with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Republic of Ireland International Stephanie Roche with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Picture: ©INPHO/Valeriano Di Domenico
Republic of Ireland International Stephanie Roche with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Picture: ©INPHO/Valeriano Di Domenico

As a woman in sport, visibility is important to Roche who says the Irish team qualifying for the Women’s World Cup in Australia next year is “huge”.

“I think that will be brilliant not only for young girls but young boys to have female role models. For years when I was growing up playing it was always men I looked up to on telly, talking about the matches, and then it was men playing the matches whereas now, it’s a little bit more diverse.” 

Her proudest moment, however, will always be playing for her country.

“Playing for my country and making my debut is probably always going to be the proudest moment of my life. Playing for Ireland is something that is huge and very important to me,” she says.

“I think making a breakthrough into punditry has been brilliant. There was a time where it wasn’t accepted, and you had a lot to deal with. [There are] a few barriers in the way in terms of convincing people that women have a voice in men’s football but I think being able to do that over the last number of years has been something I’ve been proud of.” 

'I’m in love with the game I’ve always played.' Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
'I’m in love with the game I’ve always played.' Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

With many accolades, the Peamount United player still has plenty of goals to come — and not just on the pitch.

“I think for me, working and doing all of this stuff now is about setting myself up for the future. I’m in love with the game I’ve always played. I’ve always felt football was what I wanted to do but there’s going to come a stage where I know I need to look to the future so, in terms of what I want to achieve, there’s still so much more to do after football.

“I’d like to become a coach, I’d like to do stuff like that so I think I still have a few things on my list that I want to achieve.”

As for her trip to Cork, the striker is taking her skills off the field and onto the screen as she and David Meyler go head-to-head with Ireland’s top Esport athletes in a FIFA battle in Cork City FC’s Turner Cross Stadium today as part of Virgin Media’s ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign.

“I really enjoy playing FIFA — now David Meyer is like a pro at it so I’m hoping I’m not out of my depth too much but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a pretty cool day.” She tells me she used to play FIFA in her teens and tries to play it in her downtime — “whenever there is any”.

  • Virgin Media brought Stephanie Roche to Turner’s Cross to play with Ireland’s top two WYLDE esports athletes in a live FIFA battle as part of the ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign. Like Stephanie on the pitch, esports gamers need their best kit too, in this case, the best broadband from Virgin Media.

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