Stephanie Roche will move to the north-east as it Sunderland AFC ladies announced they had signed the Republic of Ireland striker.
The 26-year old, who was named as the runner up for the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year, will now play in the FA WSL, the top flight of women’s football in England.
She suffered heartbreak last month after her dream move to American club Houston Dash was terminated early, due to a surplus of international contracts at the club following an injury.
Speaking about her arrival, Roche said: “It’s great to be at Sunderland Ladies and I can’t wait to get started.
“I know there is a high standard in WSL 1 and it’s something I’m looking forward to being a part of. The team have done really well this season and hopefully I can play my part too.”
Sunderland AFC Ladies head coach, Carlton Fairweather, added: “Stephanie is going to be a very good addition to the side. The fact she was nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award at the 2014 Ballon d’Or ceremony shows her ability, but it isn’t just about that and she will bring added value to the side.
“From her point of view it is a great opportunity to establish herself in the FAWSL 1 and then push on from there, so her main objective will be to cement her place in the first-team and continue to represent Republic of Ireland at international level.”
“We have had a good start to the season and as we enter the next phase we want to push on and improve.”
Roche has made 40 appearances for her country to date, having made her debut for the Republic of Ireland in 2008. She won plaudits around the world for her wonder strike for Peamount United, coming second to Colombia’s James Rodriguez at the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony.
The forward began her career in her native Ireland with Stella Maris, before joining Dundalk City in 2007. Spells with Raheny United and Peamount United followed, before a stint in France with ASPTT Albi and before moving to Houston Dash.
Roche could be in line to make her debut, as the Lady Black Cats re-start their WSL 1 campaign with a home game against Notts County Ladies, at Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground in Hetton, on Sunday 12 July at 2.00pm.
Tickets for the clash are available, priced at £4.00 for adults and £2.00 for concessions, with entry free for supporters who have renewed season cards for the 2015-16 campaign at the Stadium of Light.
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