Move over Diego Costa – Stephanie Roche vies with world’s best men

Stephanie Roche’s wonder goal attracted 2½ million YouTube views

Stephanie Roche: “It’s great for women’s football”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Stephanie Roche: “It’s great for women’s football”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

So, how did Stephanie Roche find out she was one of the 10 nominees for Fifa’s Puskas Award, the gong granted to the player deemed to have scored the finest goal in world football between October 2013 and September 2014?

Appropriately enough, because it’s where her wonder effort for Peamount United 13 months ago found fame with the assistance of the likes of Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan, it was through Twitter.

“I saw all my notifications, they’d gone mad, and I wondered what was going on,” she laughed. “I couldn’t believe it. I was home two weeks ago and went to the UCD v Wexford game, there was some chat there about the goal being nominated, but I never expected it.”

By yesterday, though, the congratulations were pouring in, Roche listed alongside the likes of Diego Costa (Spain/Chelsea), Robin van Persie (Netherlands/Manchester United), James Rodriguez (Colombia/Real Madrid) and the holder of the Puskas Award, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris St Germain). And she’s the only woman on the list too.

 “And that’s the biggest thing really, it’s great for women’s football,” she said, speaking from France where she is now playing for ASPTT Albi in the top flight of their league. “All the attention the goal got at the time really helped promote our game, which I was delighted about, the reaction was incredible.” Two and a half million views later on YouTube, after then Peamount manager Eileen Gleeson posted footage of the goal, and Roche was dizzy from the acclaim.

Waiting at the edge of the box, she collected a cross from the right with her right foot, tapped it on to her left foot, flicked it over her marker’s head and hit a thunderbolt of a left foot volley into the back of the net. Ridiculous.

Have you scored one like it since?

 “No,” she laughed, “but I’m trying.”

The Dubliner moved to France during the summer after being offered a professional contract by newly promoted Albi, and while she admits it’s taking time to settle in, she’s enjoying the experience. “Playing against the likes of Lyon and Paris St Germain has been fantastic, their standard is unbelievable, so I’m learning a lot. The language barrier is the hardest part, the only player in the squad who spoke English left, so that was tough, but I’m taking lessons. So long as I can say “give me the ball”, I’ll be okay.”

It’s 12 years since the Wolfe Tones’ 'A Nation Once Again' was, eh, voted the world's favourite song in a BBC poll, a little more than that since Irish footballer Ronnie O’Brien was leading the likes of Albert Einstein in Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Century’ internet poll, until the lousers disqualified him.

So, you know what to do (early and often): www.fifa.com/ballon-dor/puskas-award/index.html

The 10 Nominations:

Camilo Sanvezzo:  October 6, 2013, Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers

Stephanie Roche: October 20, 2013, Peamount United v Wexford Youths

Pajtim Kasami: 21 October 21, 2013, Crystal Palace v Fulham

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: October 19, 2013, Paris St Germain v SC Bastia

Diego Costa: November 23, 2013, Atletico Madrid v Getafe

Marco Fabian: February 15, 2014, Cruz Azul v Puebla

Hisato Sato: March 8, 2014, Sanfrecce Hiroshima v. Kawasaki Frontale

Robin van Persie: June 13, 2014, Spain v Netherlands

Tim Cahill: June 18, 2014, Australia v. Netherlands

James Rodriguez: June 28, 2014, Colombia v. Uruguay

 

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