Though playing only in four of Tahiti’s 11 qualifying matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Roche is seeking to make the No1 spot his own in Brazil. The popular squad man affectionately known as ‘Mika’ shared the role with Xavier Samin during both the 2012 OFC Nations Cup, which doubled as qualifiers for this year’s Festival of Champions in Brazil, as well as the third and final stage of Oceania 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
One of the more experienced campaigners in the squad, the tall Roche has everything a good goalkeeper needs: agility, speed and great reflexes. In addition, coach Eddy Etaeta speaks with enthusiasm about Roche’s contribution to the national team citing his ability to unite the squad and his “fighting spirit”.
Now aged 30, Roche started his senior career at the age of 17 for Tahitian club AS JT. The year after he moved to France where he studied to become a sports teacher. In France, he played with the reserve team of AS Monaco for a season, before turning out in the colours of lower league outfits Menton and Endoume. After finishing his studies, he returned to Tahiti and AS JT.
In 2009, he signed with current side AS Dragon, with the club enjoying unprecedented success in recent years. Since then, he has won two national championships and one cup with Dragon, having done the double this season.
Roche, who has featured in national team ranks since his teens, also has international Beach Soccer experience, having been player/coach of the national beach soccer team (Tiki Toa) in 2005.
Blessed with a good-natured sense of humour, Roche says he initially took up goalkeeping “because I’m really, really crazy”. Now he faces up to the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and David Villa saying it is an opportunity to be relished.