SU­PER STEPH!

Shankhill na­tive makes top three short­list for FIFA goal of the year

Bray People - - FRONT PAGE - By PADRAIG BYRNE

SHANKHILL’S Stephanie Roche is fly­ing high hav­ing been named in the top three short­list for the 2014 Puskas Award for goal of the year along­side Manch­ester United’s Robin Van Per­sie and James Ro­driguez of Real Madrid. Stephanie is the first woman to be short­listed for the award and speak­ing from France where she now plays she said she was over the moon. ‘I still don’t think it’s re­ally hit me,’ she said.

SHANKHILL’S Stephanie Roche is on top of the world at the mo­ment after mak­ing the top three in the short­list for this year’s Ferenc Puskas Goal of the Year Award.

A na­tive of Shanganagh Cliffs in Shankhill, Stephanie faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion for the award from Manch­ester United star Robin Van Per­sie and Real Madrid’s James Ro­driguez.

How­ever, Stephanie won’t be put off by those big names, hav­ing al­ready beaten off com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Diego Costa and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic to take her place in the top three at a spe­cial awards cer­e­mony in Zurich next month.

Stephanie’s won­der strike for Peamount United against Wex­ford Youths in Fer­rycar­rig Park has got­ten mas­sive praise world­wide and she is on cloud nine hav­ing found out that she made the top three short­list.

‘I still don’t think it’s re­ally hit me,’ she said, speak­ing from France where she cur­rently plays pro­fes­sion­ally for ASPTT Albi. ‘I haven’t had a chance to see my fam­ily or my friends and talk to them about it, so I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting home on De­cem­ber 23 and hav­ing a lit­tle bit of a cel­e­bra­tion at Christ­mas.’

Stephanie is the first woman to make the top three short­list for FIFA goal of the year, but in­sists that her gen­der can’t have played to much of a part in the decision mak­ing.

‘I’m very happy with my goal and I think I’m in the top three on merit as op­posed to some to­ken ges­ture,’ she said.

In relation to her com­pe­ti­tion, Stephanie has no fear. ‘ The amount of support I’ve been get­ting from back home and here in France has pushed me to be­lieve I might just have a chance of win­ning it,’ she said. ‘Ob­vi­ously the other two goals are world class and both were scored in the World Cup, but last year the win­ning goal was scored in an in­ter­na­tional friendly, so any­thing can hap­pen.’

Roche is cur­rently ad­just­ing to life as a pro­fes­sional in France hav­ing left Peamount United and Ire­land to play pro­fes­sion­ally.

‘I’m still kind of ad­just­ing,’ she said of the move. ‘I’m just re­ally happy to be able to fo­cus on foot­ball full time. The stan­dard here is most def­i­nitely a step ahead of the Ir­ish league. I would have played against some world class play­ers with the na­tional team, but here I have to be on top of my game ev­ery time I play.’

Stephanie has sent a mas­sive thank you to ev­ery­one back home who voted for her and she is now look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing home and to the big FIFA Awards cer­e­mony in Zurich on Jan­uary 12. ‘I can’t wait,’ she said. ‘It’s some­thing to re­ally look for­ward to.’

Stephanie Roche is the first woman to make it on to the top three short­list for FIFA Goal of the Year.

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