Stephanie Roche: Wonder goal has me dreaming

Roche is nominated for the Puskas Award

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The Independent Football

As a Manchester United supporter Roche would normally want Robin van Persie to win Fifa’s goal of the year award Monday night. Not this time, because Roche’s own name is on the three-goal shortlist for the Puskas Award, the first woman to achieve that honour.

The goal in question came on 13 October 2013, when the  25-year-old Republic of Ireland international was playing for for Peamount United against Wexford Youths Women. It is one of the best goals you will ever see. However, the big-money boot deal must have got lost in the post, while the luxurious trappings of football fame have yet to materialise.

The spotlight has not eluded her, though. A clip of her wonder goal has been seen by more than six million people on YouTube.

Competition for the Fifa award is provided by two goals from last summer’s World Cup in Brazil: James Rodriguez’s turn and volley for Colombia against Uruguay; and Van Persie’s diving header for Holland against Spain.


But while Rodriguez and Van Persie had their goals filmed from multiple angles with the world watching, Roche’s extraordinary feat of skill was performed before a crowd of just 95. It would have been lost for ever had Wexford Youths coach John Flood not brought his camcorder to Ferrycarrig Park that fateful day.

Roche was at home in Ireland over Christmas, drumming up support that she hopes translates into a deluge of public votes. Her boyfriend, Dean Zambra, plays for Bray Wanderers and his television presenter sister, Karla, takes press inquiries for Roche.

It has the making of a cosy cottage industry, if only Roche could make her famous goal pay a handsome return. “I haven’t had any offers or anything. I’m just focusing on the Puskas Award and then I’ll decide what I’m going to do with my future,” Roche said.

“I haven’t got anything like boot deals yet. You never know, something might come through, but I haven’t got any sort of sponsorship or deals just yet.

“A lot of people seem to be getting behind the goal. I’m just so happy and I hope that it can continue until 12 January and we can get some more votes.”

The jaw-dropping moment in Peamount’s green and black colours came when Roche collected a short cross from the right on her right instep 25 yards out, flicked it across her body with her back to defender Laura Heffernan and propelled a left-footed volley into the top right-hand corner of the net.

She subsequently moved to the south of France to join ASPTT Albi, although she is soon to leave the club after struggling with the language barrier. The future remains uncertain but memories of her wonder strike will never fade.

“It’s something I’m so proud of,” Roche said. “I’m up against two of the most well-known players in world football who play for two of the best clubs in the world. But the award is for the most beautiful goal, not for the stage on which it’s scored. I hope people will look at it like that.

“I’ve scored quite a few good goals in my career, but what’s happened with this goal makes it the best. It’s put me in the spotlight and that is something I’ll never forget.”