Simpson’s sublime first-time volley from range
Billie Simpson scored from own half in the Northern Ireland Women's Premiership
The long-range first-time volley took social media by storm
The Cliftonville Ladies defender is a Northern Ireland international
The Northern Ireland Women's Premiership is not often thrust into the global spotlight. In August 2018, however, a long-range first-time volley in a Northern Irish women’s domestic game was the talk of planet football.
Jaws dropped around the world as footage of Cliftonville Ladies’ Billie Simpson scoring from her own half against Sion Swifts with a sweetly struck stunner spread rapidly across social media.
Those calling for it to be nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award were pleased to learn that the Northern Ireland international’s goal was among the ten nominees for this year’s accolade.
"Whenever we're training, if anybody hits the ball up in the air, I'll always try to volley it," the defender said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph. “I just know that I can do it and if I connect with it, it could hit the net.”
"We had been 2-0 down so I don't think I even celebrated or anything. I was just thinking get the ball and let's go again. After the game, even the Sion fans were coming over and shaking my hand. Then everybody was going on about it and I thought 'I better watch this back'."
Simpson’s sublime strike was not a one-off according to former Cliftonville Ladies manager Martin Douglas.
"What the video didn't show is that she took a quick free-kick from the half-way line shortly after and it came off the underside of the crossbar," said Douglas, who left his role as the Belfast club’s manager last month.
"Last season, she scored a free-kick from about 40 yards out in the cup semi-final and she also scored another volley from about 35-yards straight from a goal-kick."
Simpson’s stunner is not the first time a Puskas-nominated goal has brought Northern Ireland’s domestic scene to international attention.
Matty Burrows’ jumping backheel volley for fellow Belfast club Glentoran in the men’s top-flight was nominated for the 2010 accolade, seeing him in the running with stars such as Neymar, Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi.
Simpson’s inclusion this year will be a welcome boost to the domestic scene in Northern Ireland where the Women’s Premiership, and women’s football in general, continues to grow.
"It's definitely progressing, compared to what it was a few years ago," she said. "Now we have officials, the games are being recorded and it's hopefully getting more professional.
“Maybe in another ten or 15 years, there will be money in the game and some players can get paid. That would be the next big thing for the sport."
Do you think Simpson's stunner is worthy of the Puskás Award? Then follow the below link to cast your vote!