Carlton Fairweather believes the arrival of wonder-goal scorer Stephanie Roche is another step towards Sunderland Ladies growing into a Women’s Super League force.
The Lady Black Cats have signed the Republic of Ireland international on what is believed to be a long-term deal.
Roche achieved world stardom last year when a spectacular goal for her club side was nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award at the 2014 Ballon d’Or ceremony.
While she finished as runner-up to James Rodríguez’s screamer for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, her goal was a Yube Tube sensation being watched by millions around the world.
Now, Sunderland have pulled off something of a coup by signing the 26-year-old Dubliner.
After all the adulation and publicity, spells in France and the USA did not work out for the attacking player, playing just 10 times for ASPTT Albi in the French top flight and only twice for Houston Dash.
Roche returned home from the States last month and after training with Sunderland has now agreed to join the Wearsiders.
“Stephanie is a great signing for us,” said Fairweather, who will hand her a debut against Notts County at Hetton, on Sunday, July 12, when WSL1 re-commences following the World Cup.
“She’s technically really good and predominantly left-footed which is also good for us.
“Stephanie is a very good addition to the squad and another signing who can help take us forward to where we want to be.”
Sunderland are enjoying a great debut season in WSL1, currently lying fourth in the table and looking strong bets to retain their top-flight status. They went into the season with a side based on last year’s WSL2 championship team, enhanced by signings Tori Williams, from Doncaster Belles, and ex-Everton talent Brooke Chaplen.
The arrival of Roche, who is almost certain to operate down the left, will add to the quality and creativity in the squad and show the Lady Black Cats are building for the future as well as looking to seal their place in England’s elite.
“Stephanie’s very well known with that goal she scored which got her nominted at the Ballon d’Or,” Fairweather told the Echo.
“She played in France and was out in the States too but that didn’t work out for her. Stephanie’s back now and has a great opportunity to establish herself in WSL1.”
Roche, who scored THAT goal for Peamount United against Wexford Youths back in October, 2013, is looking forward to playing in England.
“It’s great to be at Sunderland Ladies,” she said.
“I know there is a high standard in WSL1 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.”