Roche rockets into top three
Stephanie will clash with Rodriguez and Van Persie
WITH over a year between her goal and it’s Puskas nomination, Stephane Roche admits she’d nearly forgotten all about it but it’s top 10 nomination for the FIFA Goal of the Year award brought the memories flooding back.
And when the votes flooded in, she became the first female to ever be make the top-three shortlist.
Roche will now compete against James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie and will discover her faith on Monday, January 12 as she brushes shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi and her idol Cristiano Ronaldo.
When the Shankill woman discovered that she’d made the cut on Monday, it was double joy for her; one for the nomination itself and two, because she’d had her blushes spared on live French television.
“I went down to the clubhouse and French TV were there to film me watching the live feed on YouTube though FIFA TV”, Roche, 25, revealed. “I’m obviously happy that my name was called out because it would’ve been a little bit embarrassing if it hadn’t with the TV cameras there! Obviously my name was called out first so I was delighted.
“It still hasn’t sunk in to be honest. I was training there an hour ago and since I got back my phone hasn’t stopped. It’s been a bit crazy. When I saw my face pop up I was just like ‘oh my god, that’s me, yes!’. It was just surreal. I’m happy that people have been so supportive and got behind me which has been brilliant, it’s obviously what’s got me there. I’m hoping that they’ll continue to vote and maybe even get me to win it!”
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane pledged his support for Roche on Monday evening but such endorsements are all in a day’s work for the leggy blonde.
“There’s been so many people! There’s too many people for me to even mention. I’ve been tweeting people and I’m trying to get people to share it and they’ve been fantastic about it. I don’t even know what to say to be honest. I’m kind of speechless at the minute and I’m just happy I’m in the top three.”
Her popularity has its drawbacks too. She must now de- cide who will escort her to the awards ceremony, where she’s hoping to befriend a Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I just have to find out how many people I can bring because there’s a bit of a list! Obviously Dean (Zambra, Bray Wanderers player) wants to come with me and he’s my boyfriend so he’s going to come and I’d really love to bring my Dad as well, he’s a really big supporter. I’m just waiting to hear from FIFA to hear what the story is and what the plan is for the awards.
“I’d love to meet Ronaldo, he’s one of the players I’ve admired for the last 10 years or so since he started playing for United. It’s a great opportunity and maybe even I’ll get the chance to talk to the likes of van Persie and Rodriguez. We’ll see what happens!”
It will be a night she’ll never forget but it is a goal she’d nearly forgotten; such was the gap between its creation and its nomination. And having come this far, she now wants to take the final step and take home the prize.
“I’d put it to the back of my mind and then to be nominated for the Puskas award brought it all back out in the open. Now it’s just blown up again and it’s being seen on a worldwide scale now rather than just in Ireland. It’s been great. The reaction it’s been getting is just great for me as a footballer and obviously to be the first female to be shortlisted for the top three is a great achievement as well. I’m just really happy.
“Even to be shortlisted for the top 10 I was happy with it. I’m not going to lie, as soon as I got there I wanted to get to the top three and now that I’m in the top three I do want to win it but I don’t want to be greedy either. I’m happy for what’s happened to me and I’m lucky enough that my goal was caught on camera and I’m just hoping people will look at the goal and see it on merit and think I’m worthy to win it.”
It will be an agonising 40- day wait between now and then. She does anticipate some nervous times as D-Day draws closer but she’ll try to busy herself with preparations for what could be the night of her life.
“I hadn’t actually thought about it at all until today (Monday) and then about half an hour before it was being announced I got so nervous and I don’t know where it came from! I had been saying “I don’t care” and “we’ll just see what happens” and then as soon as it came close to it, I was so nervous! So I’d say it’s going to be the same thing on the night of the actual awards. I haven’t though that far ahead yet. I’ll probably be worrying about what dress to wear and whether I’m getting my hair done!”
She also has her French club ASPTT Albi to occupy her time and mind. Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, she hopes she can reap the benefits from her tenure there.
“It’s obviously been quite difficult with the language barrier and it’s been a big culture change but I’m just happy I’m able to play football full-time and not have to worry about getting off work and stuff like that. It’s just nice to be in a full-time environment and I’m looking forward to the Irish games next year and hopefully me playing full-time will benefit me in them games.”
Roche’s goal was scored while she was playing for Peamount United against Wexford Youths in the Women’s National League. It was posted online and she promptly shot to fame. Between the several different versions of the goal, she has accrued well in excess of four million views.
To vote for her effort, log onto fifa.com.
StEPHANIE ROCHE wHOsE GOAL HAs MADE It tO tHE tOP tHrEE OF tHE FIFA GOAL OF tHE YEAr AwArD.