Stuart Dallas takes childhood sweetheart to Euro 2016

Stuart and Juneve with daughter Pixie on their wedding day
Stuart and Juneve with daughter Pixie on their wedding day

When Cookstown born footballer Stuart Dallas proposed to his childhood sweetheart Juneve Lamont in the most romantic city in the world in 2013, never in their wildest dreams did the Co Tyrone couple imagine that they’d be returning to France three years later so Stuart could represent his country in Euro 2016.

The pair set their wedding date for Friday June 3, 2016 - and then the unthinkable happened. Northern Ireland qualified for the tournament, and their opening games fell just a week after the Big Day.

While the mayhem meant that Stuart, who plays club football for Leeds United, where he and his new wife and four-year-old daughter Pixie are also based, was away in France in the days leading up to his wedding, his cool and collected wife-to-be handled all the final preparations with ease.

And now, whilst the tournament means they’ve had to put their honeymoon on hold, Juneve is excited to be travelling over to France with Pixie and some of Stuart’s family, to see her new husband play.

“I’m used to it all now,” she laughs, as I suggest that the constant travelling around in her midfielder husband’s wake is part of the fun of being a footballer’s wife.

“We had been living in London, and then had to move to Leeds. You just go where he has to go, to anywhere where he is going to be successful.”

The Dallas family left Northern Ireland in the early hours of yesterday (Friday) morning to travel to Nice, where they are staying for a week.

Then they’ll be heading up to Lyon, back to Nice, and finally, flying back to Paris for a second week.

They don’t, like so many fans, know exactly when they’ll be home.

Juneve says she’s thrilled for her husband, who made his Northern Ireland debut in a 2-0 defeat against Wales in May 2011, before going on to make 13 international appearances, and believes he deserves this chance to represent his country.

“I’m nervous for him, although I know he’s going to do an amazing job. I have faith in him and so does everyone, if anybody deserves it he does, he works so hard. I’m just really excited for him.”

The stunning brunette, who got together with Stuart when they were 16-year-old pupils at Cookstown High School, admits that she gets “emotional” when she sees her other half in his Northern Ireland strip.

“You just look at him in that green shirt, and he’s so proud; it’s all he ever wanted to do, play for his country, and now they are going to this massive tournament. I just couldn’t be any prouder of him.”

She added: “You do get the butterflies in your belly, thinking, ‘oh my word, please do well.’

“And Pixie is so excited, she’s counting down the sleeps till she sees her daddy. She was all excited the other day too to get her new Northern Ireland shirt. She goes to all the NI matches with me and when he’s on she just loves to watch him.”

Juneve says there were moments of stress in the run up to the Big Day, which took place at Cookstown Independent Methodist Church, with a lavish reception at Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan.

But they had the perfect day, she says, and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

And the excitement about going to France has given her something to look forward to in the absence of an immediate honeymoon.

“People have been asking if I’m not really down, and I’m saying no, I’m fine, because I’ve got this excitement coming as well. It’s one excitement leading into another.

“I’ve been running round this week trying to get sorted but I’m still on Cloud 9, thinking, my husband is away over in France and we’re going out to see him, and there is nothing else that you would wish for apart from him to do well.”