Analysis: Don’t vote for Stephanie Roche for the sake of it - vote because it's the best goal
In 1999, a young Irishman by the name of Ronnie O’Brien led a poll on who should be Person of the Century in Time Magazine.
O’Brien was a budding soccer player who was released by Middlesbrough and secured a shock move to Juventus where he spent more time on the bench than off it.
After a somewhat dismal three years with the Italian giants when he was loaned out to Lugano in Switzerland, Crotone and Lecco in Italy and Scotland’s Dundee United, O’Brien went to the USA to ply his trade with FC Dallas, Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes. And this, remember, was at a time when soccer in America was a far cry from where it is today which, arguably, is not much to shout about at all.
It would be fair to say that O’Brien had potential as a youngster and this is evidenced by his inclusion in the Ireland Under 16 squad that won the European Cup in 1998.
But the big question in Time Magazine HQ in 1999 was: "Who the hell is Ronnie O’Brien and how on earth is he leading a Person of the Century poll?”
Nelson Mandela, Elvis, John F Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa. They were all playing second fiddle to a young Irishman from Bray.
It soon became apparent that there was a suspicious flood of votes for O’Brien and he was disqualified.
"Whimsical candidates and others who were not alive during this century, or do not fall within the spirit of the title, will not be counted," said Time Magazine website at the time.
"This was just a bit of fun, even if he is an obscure footballer, and we're not at all miffed," added a spokeswoman in New York.
Right now, the vote counters at FIFA are busy trawling through their databases. What was 10 is now three and Irish woman Stephanie Roche is still in line to pick up the award for the best goal of 2014. Lionel Messi has already been brushed aside and Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez remain the only hurdles between Roche and the prestigious Puskas award, the winner of which is announced tomorrow night.
She has already made history in becoming the first female to reach the final three.
In light of recent fixed voting allegations in relation to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, FIFA could well do without a Ronnie O’Brien-type rigged vote for Stephanie Roche.
That’s why everyone on this Island should not use bias when voting for the greatest goal of 2014. They should simply vote for the best goal. And that is why Stephanie Roche should win this award hands down.
In the words of the senior analyst, Mr John Giles, take each goal on its merits.
Here is how the results should look.
3: Van Persie
Daley Blind’s 40-yard ball to Van Persie was exquisite. Arrowed over the Spanish defence with pinpoint precision in the Netherland’s opening World Cup game in Brazil, the ball fell invitingly for Van Persie.
Once Blind picked up the ball on the left wing at the halfway line, Van Persie was gone. He saw the pass before Blind even lifted his head and it’s these clever runs that have catapulted the Dutchman to one of the world’s best strikers.
Absolutely stunning, clever and brilliantly executed goal. With Spanish keeper Iker Casillas off his line, Van Persie had a decision to make. Take it down and risk a bad touch which would allow Casillas time to smoother the danger or take it first time with a right-footed volley or on his head.
Van Persie’s quick thinking was vital and his technique faultless.
The touch of a genius and a finish to match. There were no Hollywood passes in this one and it’s all down to the man himself.
Colombia’s Abel Aguilar directed a header towards Rodriquez, who had his back to goal, 25 yards out against Uruguay in the World Cup.
One split second in the clip epitomises what made this goal so special. Despite facing the wrong way, the Real Madrid man had only one thing on his mind and that was to control the ball on his chest while turning and striking, all in one movement.
Rodriquez can clearly be seen having a look over his right shoulder before he expertly created a yard to fire in off the crossbar. The awareness was as good as the strike itself.
Although controlling the ball on the chest from a tame header won’t earn you a clip on Soccer AM’s Show Boaters, Rodriguez showed composure and guile to steer the ball back towards the goal and into a position where he could shoot.
Rodriguez could not have caught it better, although it must be noted that it couldn’t have been set up any better either. Because of his audacious control, Rodriguez was able to connect with the ball at the exact height he wanted to and put his laces right through the ball.
1: Stephanie Roche
THE FIRST TOUCH
Simply outstanding. Whereas Rodriguez had a routine ball to control, Roche risked embarrassing herself by even attempting to control a cross in Peamount’s National League game against Wexford Youths last year.
Consider this: Roche had her back to the goal 20 yards out and the ball was fired into her from the right. Three touches later and without the ball even hitting the ground, it was nestling in the back of the net.
Roche’s first touch was as good as you will see in any game you will watch, or have watched this year, male or female.
After a stunning first touch it’s simple really. Get it on the deck and get it out wide and talk about the moment over a beer in the pub afterwards. Not for Roche.
To even think of flicking the ball over her opponent’s to set up a shooting chance take some cheek and a hell of a lot of confidence. At this stage Roche was aware of her position knew exactly what she needed to so to create a yard of.
THE SECOND TOUCH
If Lionel Messi executed this touch, I would not be writing this article. To flick a ball over both your own and your opponent’s head with the outside of your foot is fairy tale stuff. Just watch the technique again. And again.
Like Rodriguez, Roche was not directly facing the goal and needed to adjust her body before cracking the ball into the net. Her body position meant she had to get her foot right around the ball to steer it into the right hand side of the net. She displayed incredible technique and power with her actually strike of the ball every bit as good as Rodriquz’s.
Do the right thing. Vote here for the best goal and that's Stephanie Roche.