Roche’s rocket fails to strike it lucky

Republic of Ireland International Stephanie Roche with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at yesterday's Fifa Ballon D'Or ceremony in Zurich. Roche thanked all of the Irish voters who backed her campaign.  Picture: Inpho/Valeriano Di Domenico

Stephanie Roche said that she is "a little bit raw" and "disappointed" at not winning Fifa’s Puskas award at the Ballon D’Or ceremony in Zurich, but expressed thanks to "everybody from around the world" that voted, "particularly those back in Ireland".

The award — which is a public poll to decide the calendar year’s best goal — saw Roche earn 33% of the vote for her strike for Peamount United against Wexford Youths in the Women’s National League, only to be pipped by Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who claimed 42% of votes for his volley against Uruguay in the second round of the World Cup in the Maracana. At the same time, Roche left Robin Van Persie far behind, with the Dutch striker only claiming 11% for his header against Spain in Brazil.

Roche expressed pride at that, and the achievement in general, and said she wanted it to help the women’s game, but admitted that the campaign to push her goal had allowed her to believe she might win.

“Over the last few days, people have been telling me that I’m going to win and it was a great goal. That kind of got my hopes up. I suppose that’s what has me a little disappointed,” she said.

“I’d like to thank everybody from around the world that got behind me but, particularly, those back in Ireland.

“I’ve said all along that I didn’t want to jinx it. But, at the same time, when you have people telling you it’s such a great goal — people who know a lot about football — that gave me the hope that I could win it.

“That’s the way it goes, and congratulations to James.

“But, as I said, it’s been a fantastic achievement to get here and hopefully I’ve helped women’s football. Hopefully that can happen over the next few years, by improving the standard and the publicity for the women’s game.”

She added: “Being a footballer, I wanted to win. But the achievement of getting here is fantastic and something I’ll remember forever.”

There were audible gasps and murmurs in Zurich’s Kongresshaus when Roche’s goal was shown.

Despite rubbing shoulders with many legends of the game — including receiving praise for the goal from Alessandro Del Piero and having her picture taken with eventual Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo — Roche said she didn’t feel nervous.

“I don’t think I was. Obviously the closer it got to the award, I got a bit more nervous. But, at the same time, I had myself prepared for either news.”

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