Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi pictured gawping at Stephanie Roche as she walks by at Ballon d'Or ceremony

Roche was one of the three finalists for the 2014 Puskas Award but left a lasting impression on Messrs Ronaldo and Messi

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It takes something special to attract the interest of the two best players in world football at the Ballon d’Or award ceremony, especially given the drawn out process of the entire day in Zurich that saw press conferences start many hours before the final announcement was made.

So take a bow Stephanie Roche, who left Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi visibly in awe as she walked by to take her seat ahead of the Fifa Gala yesterday evening. Republic of Ireland international Roche was up for the Puskas Award for her stunning goal in October 2013 in a low-key match for Peamount United against Wexford Youth.

Roche revealed that she enjoyed the attention shown to her by the Real Madrid and Barcelona forwards, with Ronaldo going on to beat Messi in the battle for the 2014 Ballon d’Or.

Roche retweeted a post on Twitter that simply read “AH LADS! Picture of The Day From The #BallondOr with @StephanieRoche9” while she later posted herself: “Very Proud to receive 1.1million votes. Congrats to James. A fantastic experience & thanks to everyone (across the world) for your support!”


Roche arrives at the ceremony with boyfriend Dean Zambra

Unfortunately, she was not able to take the award as James Rodriguez’s World Cup volley beat her to top spot, but her runners-up berth has still gone down as a breakthrough for women’s football in what has been a hugely successful year for the female side of the game.