Since 2009, the International Football Federation (FIFA) has awarded the Puskás prize for best goal of the year, in memory of the Hungarian striker for Real Madrid, Ferenc Puskás.
The soccer superstars who have won include Christiano Ronaldo and Neymar, and the 2014 nominees included World Cup standouts Robin van Persie, Tim Cahill and James Rodriguez. And now 25-year-old Irish soccer player Stephanie Roche is among the final few.
Roche is the only woman nominated this year and the first Irish player to be nominated for the award. The Dublin native currently plays for French Division I team ASPTT Albi, but scored the goal that’s been recognized as one of the best of the year when she was with Peamount United in Ireland's Bus Eireann National League.
FIFA’s description of the goal reads: “When the ball came towards Peamount United forward Stephanie Roche against Wexford Youths, she had her back to goal, yet three touches later and without the ball touching the turf, it was in the back of the net. With her first touch she controlled it masterfully, before producing a dink over her marker’s head, spinning and unleashing a magnificent volley.”
Roche told SportsKeeda she was “delighted to have been nominated for FIFA’s best goal of the year.
"Obviously, it was a big surprise, but it is a great boost, not only for myself, but for women’s football and particularly the Women’s National League. It’s a great feeling to see myself on the list."
The award is decided by public vote, which means support from proud Irish fans around the world will be important in helping Roche beat her 9 fellow nominees."People in Ireland and all round the world have been supporting me – and that's just as well, I think, because I'll need all the support I can get when I'm up against Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” she said.
"I’m delighted to be named amongst those famous players and hopefully I can get into the top three."
Four female players have previously been nominated for the Puskás prize, but a woman has yet to win or to be voted into the top three.
It's your last chance. Let’s get to voting!