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Footballer Stephanie Roche becomes the latest celebrity to join RTE One’s Dancing with the Stars

The upcoming series is fast becoming the most star-studded season ever for the national broadcaster

Daragh KeanySunday World

Stephanie Roche is swapping footballs for glitterballs as she has joined the star-studded cast of RTE’s Dancing with then Stars.

The Irish footballer is currently working as a pundit on the Qatar World Cup but will soon be spending her time in rehearsals as she hopes her quick feet will prove an advantage in the competitive dance show.

Stephanie told Ryan Tubridy this morning: “I’m excited and nervous to get started on Dancing with the Stars. This is a whole new experience for me and one that will definitely take me out of my comfort zone but I’m excited to learn to dance and to enjoy the whole experience.”

From Shankill in Dublin, Stephanie is one of Ireland’s best known female footballers. The striker made her international debut in 2009 and has scored 14 goals over the course of her 58 appearances and shot to fame in 2013 when her goal for Peamount against a Wexford side was runner up for the FIFA Puskas Award for best goal of the year.

The footage went viral with over five million views and brought big international attention. She was the only woman to be voted a finalist that year. At the finals ceremony she rubbed shoulders with Ronaldo and Messi.

The popular star appeared on Ultimate Hell Week in 2021 and is a regular pundit and commentator on RTÉ soccer coverage.

She becomes the eighth name to be announced after Glee star Damian McGinty, drag queen Panti Bliss, influencer Suzanne Jackson, singer Brooke Scullion, rugby player Shane Byrne, GAA star Paul Brogan and former state pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.

Damian McGinty rose to fame on hit US show Glee and now lives in Nashville with his wife

Derry-born McGinty told “Dancing with the Stars is a major challenge for me, one I am really excited and also very nervous about. Dancing has never been a strong point of mine, quite the opposite, but I’m eager to get to work. It feels like a great time to simply go out there and enjoy the experience, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Dubliner Suzanne Jackson began blogging in 2010 under the ‘SoSueMe’ handle, but by 2013 she left her day job to dedicate her time to her own business.

In 2016, Suzanne made another leap and launched her own beauty range SoSu Cosmetics which has proven to be hugely successful and grown to be worth an estimated €2.12million.

“I’ve watched Dancing With The Stars for years and I love the show and everything about it – from the dancing, the glam and the costumes to all the incredible people involved,” says Suzanne.

Suzanne Jackson is better known as influencer SoSueMe

Paul Brogan is an All-Ireland winning former Dublin GAA footballer and brother to Bernard and Alan.

“I’m so excited to be part of this show,” says Paul (36). “I am a competitive person, but this is way out of my comfort zone and from what training I have done so far, I know it is not going to be easy. It will take a lot of hard work, but it’ll also be a lot of fun.”

“Rehearsals have been great so far and I’m looking forward to the live shows. It will be a great experience and a new test. ...This will just be a different game in a different stadium – Croke Park to RTÉ!”

Panti is Ireland's best known drag queen

Rory O’Neill aka Panti Bliss is one of Ireland’s best-known drag queens and owns one of Dublin’s most popular pubs Panti Bar. O’Neill will be dancing with a male dancer partner each week, but in full drag.

“I feel really privileged to be part of the first same-sex couple competing on Dancing with the Stars from the very start of a series. It’s a really exciting time!” he said.

Damian’s fellow Derry native Brooke Scullion represented Ireland at Eurovision in 2022 with ‘That’s Rich’.

They will be joined by former Irish international has made over 100 appearances on the pitch for Leinster and over 40 for Ireland, including the winning Triple Crown squad in 2004.

“I’m really looking forward to hitting the dance floor on Dancing with the Stars in January!” the Wicklow native told Jennifer Zamparelli on RTÉ 2FM on Monday morning.

“It’s not like anything I’ve ever done before - it's a long way from the rugby pitch – but I’ll give it my all and I know I’ll have a lot of fun along the way.”

Byrne hung up his boots in 2009 following selections for the British and Irish Lions and Saracens throughout his career.

By next Sunday, fans will know the full line-up of celebrities preparing to battle it out for the glitter ball trophy.

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