Billie Simpson has revealed her Cliftonville Ladies team-mates were certain that her amazing halfway-line volley would be shortlisted for the Puskas Award – but admits she was a little sceptical.
The versatile Reds star made worldwide headlines when she sent a goal kick straight back where it came from in last summer’s Danske Bank Women’s Premiership clash with Sion Swifts Ladies and is currently battling it out with global superstars such as Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for FIFA’s Goal of the Season accolade.
Her fellow Cliftonville players predicted that would be the case almost immediately, with Simpson recalling: “In the days after the game, the girls were winding me up by saying the goal would definitely be up for the Puskas Award.
“We just laughed about it and then, a year later, there it is. Someone tagged me in the Cliftonville group chat to show me it was in the FIFA top 10 and I couldn’t believe it.”
With less than a week remaining until Sunday’s public vote deadline, you can show your support for Billie by casting your nomination here.
The Reds ace has, inevitably, had to contend with accusations that she simply got lucky with a clearance but asserts: “I do it all the time and it ends up at the corner flag or going out for throw-ins but that night, I just happened to strike it perfectly.”
Team mate Marissa Callaghan can vouch for that.
“It was a quality goal and she 100% meant it – I’m just proud I witnessed it live,” she says.
“She does it numerous times in training and in matches. Sometimes you’re rolling the eyes at her, going ‘Billie, come on!’
“One of the players sent the news into the group chat on Monday and there was a lot of banter about who’s going to be going to the awards dinner with her.
“It’s hard to believe and I know she’s astounded. It’s not every day you’re alongside Messi and Zlatan. She just connected so well with it. What a skill to hit the ball so sweetly with so much power.”