Thursday 22 March 2018

Ignore the begrudgers - pro Roche deserves FIFA award

The first time I saw Stephanie Roche's goal, I stopped what I was doing and said 'wow'.

A friend had told me about it and out of interest, I went to YouTube to have a look.

Then I had another look, then a third and a fourth.

From a technical perspective, it is as good as it gets - check out the way she shapes to one side to persuade the defender marking her that she is going to go to her left, before two deft, delicate touches gives her the space to shift to the opposite side.

Following this she produces an unstoppable volley that crashes into the top corner of the goalkeeper's net, and what strikes me is not just the power with which she struck her shot, but the accuracy.

This was no fluke. To be able to produce that sort of goal, you have to practise and practise and practise. Stephanie (right) clearly is a committed pro.

Deservedly she has been short-listed for the FIFA goal of the year award, and she will keep good company, sitting next to Real Madrid's James Rodriguez and Manchester United's Robin Van Persie.

I've heard some dismissive comments, suggesting that the quality of the opposition has to be taken into account when people are voting, broadly hinting that Van Persie's and Rodriguez's goals should be considered better because they were scored at the World Cup.

Yet, if anything, Stephanie's chances suffer from the fact that there was only one camera there to capture her goal. Had this been Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, there would have been 14 cameras there to showcase it from different angles.

You would have seen it time after time after time, from various vantage points in the ground. Messi and Ronaldo would be proud to score a goal that good.

Roche has been short-listed because of her technique and the execution of her strike, not because she is female, not because she is Irish.

If she wins, and I hope she does, it will be fully merited.

The competition, undoubtedly, is stiff. Van Persie's goal was superbly constructed and perfectly finished, while the power in James' strike was sensational.

For Stephanie, however, the achievement of making the final three cannot be dismissed.

She is the first Irish footballer to get there and that's some accomplishment.

Irish Independent

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