On the 20th of October 2013 Stephanie Roche scored a goal that shook the world, helping to change the perception of women’s football with one fell swoop.
The Peamount United ace saw her goal versus Wexford Youths in the Women’s National League nominated for a Puskas award, pitting herself up against James Rodríguez and Robin van Persie in the final of the 2014 Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Her competition may have scored their efforts in the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup, but what Roche had, alongside her undoubted and spectacular technique, was the novelty that gripped the nation and beyond.
At the time the WNL itself would have only been in existence for two years, and maybe 100 people would have seen her wonder goal live in person.
The fact that it was videoed at all was an anomaly in self given the games at this time weren’t even streamed. In fact, it was current FAI Head of Women’s and Girls Football and Ireland’s interim manager Eileen Gleeson who made sure of that fact, as manager of Peamount United at the time, and she’s the one who originally uploaded the phenomenal act.
💬"You'd go out in the back garden and try to do it, your coaches would be raging!"
⚽️10 years on we reacted to Stephanie Roche's Pukas nominated goal.
💬"If you attempt it and fail, you are 100% running sprints the next day"
📺Watch the FULL reaction⬇️https://t.co/ai3KDwlZ3N pic.twitter.com/E6bv45Fwkr
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) October 19, 2023
Little did she know just how viral the video would become, taking on a life of its own and culminating in Roche appearing at the finals of the Ballon d'Or.
An pop culture moment in time, everyone from celebrities to male footballers got behind the Irish woman, the sixth woman to be nominated ever for the award and the first to make it to the final three.
Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Roche ultimately fell short to a Rodríguez’s wonderstrike, but did manage to beat van Persie’s sublime diving header, in a real signal of the times.
3.3 million people had voted, with the breakdown implying just how much support Roche had garnered, for herself, but also on behalf of women’s football fans worldwide.
Rodríguez topped the lot with 42% of that allocation, with van Persie accumulating 25% and Roche coming out middle of the pack on 33% of the overall vote.
Nothing to be ashamed of by any means at all.
Roche went on to play in four of the top five leagues in the world and has played for Ireland on 58 occasions.
She’s now back in the Women’s Premier Division, this time with Shamrock Rovers and building a career for herself outside of football as a public figure and commentator.
🚨10 years ago this week Stephanie Roche scored her iconic Puskás nominated goal⚽️
💪Messi and Ronaldo even got to cross paths with the @LoiWomen legend, they even have the photo to prove it!
👀Sidenote: see if you can spot current interim Ireland manager Eileen Gleeson... pic.twitter.com/MzVoAKFtjM
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) October 17, 2023
Stephanie Roche 's goal and the unprecedented attention it got kick-started women’s football in Ireland, but also showcased to the world that it deserved to be on a platform such as that.
It broke ground to change the perception that such ability in women’s football shouldn’t be considered a peculiarity, but rather a normality that could be seen were it given the platform.
The evolution of women’s football since is a testament to that thought, although the fight is ever ongoing.