Ireland and Sunderland striker Stephanie Roche became a national treasure after her thunderbolt of a strike narrowly missed out on the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award.
The Republic of Ireland international was competing against James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie for the award which recognises the best goal of the year. She claimed over a million of the 3.3 million votes cast that year and I was delighted to speak with her on Monday morning.
We pushed the interview following United’s terrific announcement that Casey Stoney has become the Manchester United women’s team head coach, which shows the club’s desire to see the new team succeed.
Stoney, who won 130 England caps, will lead United in next season’s Women’s Championship after the FA granted the club a licence.
It brought to an end United’s 13-year absence from the senior women’s game after the team was disbanded in 2005.
“I was delighted,” Roche said after hearing United had brought women’s football back to the club.
“It shows they’re quite serious about the women’s game rather than having a token to say they have got a women’s team.
“As for Casey Stoney, all you need to do is look at her history as a player and she was also involved in the England women’s team with Phil Neville. It’s great to see someone like her getting the job and the opportunity to work with the biggest team in the world to push her career as a manager. I’m looking forward to seeing how well she does.”
Stoney, 36, retired as a player in February after spells at Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
She captained Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics and won 12 major trophies as a player, including four FA Cups.
Roche, who doesn’t know Casey on a personal level, describes playing against the new United manager.
“I’ve played against her and I have seen her will to win. She’s always played in good football teams, playing stylish football, so I’m sure she will want to bring that to the team she manages.
“These things [winning silverware] don’t happen that quickly and this is the first team they’ll have, so she is going to be looking to get as many of the best players she can. She’s going to have to work with what she has as well and that will take time, but I do think she will be successful.
“Like I said, she’s played stylish football throughout her career and will want to bring that into the team she manages.”
When asked if Roche was looking forward to following the United women’s team next season, there was a brief mention of how she may well be looking for a new club as her Sunderland contract soon expires.
“I’ll definitely look to get over there. I’m still playing for Sunderland, but my contract runs out in June and it would be a dream to play for Manchester United. If I don’t get to play for them, I’ll definitely get over to watch and encourage other people to do so.”
If Casey Stoney reads this interview, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll help get talks underway to make Roche a United player. The Reds have a long history of fantastic Irish talent and the women’s team should have the same.