Following on from last week’s wonderful victory for Katie Taylor, who won her fifth boxing World Championship in a row, it was announced earlier that ASPTT Albi and Republic of Ireland striker Stephanie Roche (formerly of Peamount United) has made it into the final three in the FIFA Puskas Award shortlist. The Puskas Award is given to the football player who is deemed to have scored the best goal of the previous 12 months. Roche is the first female football player to ever make the final three and is still hot favourite to take the overall prize when it is announced in early January.
She faces stiff competition from two of football’s most highly paid stars in James Rodriguez, whom Real Madrid paid approximately €80million for in the summer, and Robin Van Persie who is one of Manchester United’s highest paid players. But to really put things into perspective, Roche’s two competitors both scored their goals in World Cup games, watched by hundreds of millions of spectators across the globe. How many witnessed Stephanie Roche’s wondergoal? Less than one hundred.
Roche’s appearance in the top three comes after week of campaigning by several media outlets in Ireland since she first appeared in the top 10 over a month ago. The Irish public were encouraged to vote as many times as possible for the Shankill native as she took on some of the footballing world’s most recognisable faces in a bid to make the top three. The achievement is made all the more incredible by the fact that, for example, Robin Van Persie has almsot two million more followers on Twitter than there are people living in Ireland.
Voting has now re-opened to determine the winner which will be announced at the World Player of the Year awards ceremony early next year. We’ll all be keeping our fingers and toes crossed. You can vote for Stephanie here.
Follow Niall Swan on Twitter @NiallMacSuain.