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Stephanie Roche on life in the spotlight, becoming Mrs Zambra and supporting the Girls in Green

‘When you get put into the spotlight, people want to ask you about your private life and I quite like talking about it’

Kevin PalmerSunday World

It is hard to keep the smile off Stephanie Roche’s face right now after a few months she will never forget.

After taking to the dance floor for the first time in RTÉ’s Dancing With the Stars earlier this month, the Ireland football star is also getting used to married life after tying the knot with long-time partners Dean Zambra last summer.

It is a continuation of the good news story enveloping Stephanie, 33, after she shot to international fame when she was nominated for the 2014 Puskas Award that recognises the best gals scored in world football each year.

She was famously photographed catching the eye of soccer icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the awards ceremony, propelling her fame to a global audience in an instant.

Stephanie was the first woman nominated for a Puskas Award in 2014© ???????/???  `??_/

The media exposure seven years ago was a snapshot of life in the celebrity spotlight and in an exclusive chat with Magazine+ as she backed Virgin Media’s ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign, Stephanie admitted she quickly got used to talking about her personal life as well as her sporting ambitions.

“When you get put into the spotlight, people want to ask you about your private life and I quite like talking about it,” she told us.

“Obviously, you get the odd comment that you could do without when you post something on social media, but you have to ignore those.

“And I’ve always been pretty comfortable talking about my partner or my life away from football when I’m asked about it.

“You are always going to have people interested in your personal life when you are in the news and I understood that from the start.

“When I’m talking about football on the TV with RTÉ’s or on radio, there will be people who disagree with me and that’s fine.

“You are never going to have the same opinion as everyone out there and there is no reason why our views should not be analysed like the lads when they are commenting on matches.”

Roche describes her wedding to long-time love Dean last summer as her dream day, with her honeymoon put on hold as the pair had sporting commitments that needed to be fulfilled.

“It was the best day ever, which is all you could ever ask for,” continued the Shamrock Rovers star, who has been with her now hubby for 15 years.

“Myself and Dean are still playing so we got married in June and just put off the Honeymoon for a few weeks.

“It would have been so difficult trying to have a wedding when you were dealing with Covid issues, so we could enjoy a proper Irish wedding with all our family and friends there.

“Then we did the honeymoon in Dubai and Ko Samui in Thailand, which was just beautiful.

“We looked at going to the World Cup as part of our trip, but the hotel rooms were all crazy money so we decided to stick to the original plan.

“So we were watching the games on TV instead. Football was still involved in our holiday!

“Football is such a big part of my life and it is great to be with someone who shares that passion.

“I’m also going to take his name as well, so people will have to get used to me being Stephanie Zambra from now on.”

Stephanie’s dancing shoes will be a distant memory by the time one of the biggest sporting events of 2023 rolls around in July.

The women’s World Cup gets underway in July and Stephanie echoes the thoughts of the nation as she admits she can’t wait to see Vera Pauw’s Girls in Green make their debut in the biggest tournament of them all in July.

“I just hope we get World Cup fever in Ireland this summer,” added Stephanie.

“I remember when Ireland were I the 2002 World Cup and at Euro 2016 that we had this wonderful excitement around the country and it would be great to see that again with the women’s team.

“We need the whole country to get behind the team because this is the big step we needed to push the women’s game in Ireland.

“The men’s team are having a tough time at the moment and while I think Stephen Kenny is doing his best to take the team forward, the women’s team are achieving success now.

“We have been on such a long journey to get to this point in the women’s game and to see an Ireland team in the World Cup will be just amazing.

“I hope the girls go down to Australia and do themselves justice because this team have been fantastic representatives of the women’s game over the last few years.”

Roche’s success has helped to propel women’s football in Ireland in recent years and this summer, a new batch of heroes will aim to put our national team on the map like never before.

Stephanie Roche spoke to the Sunday World as part of Virgin Media’s ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign.

Virgin Media have launched the ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign.

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