A Stewarton football legend has been voted Scotland’s number one sportswoman.

Thousands of votes have been cast and counted in the BBC contest with Ayrshire footballing icon Rose Reilly named Scotland’s greatest sportswoman.

The Ayrshire footballer who, barred from playing for Scotland, instead represented Italy and won the World Cup has edged out Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, among others, to claim the title.

In the 1970s, there was no way for a woman to be a professional footballer in the UK, so the then 17-year-old Reilly left Ayrshire to follow her dream.

She started off with Reims in France, winning a league title, before moving to AC Milan. During her time in Italy, Reilly won eight Serie A titles, four Italian Cups and twice won the Golden Boot.

A huge hit, she was asked by the country’s president to play for the national team. She won the 1984 Women’s World Cup with her adopted country, scoring in the final, was named female world footballer of the year, and became a household name in Italy.

She was never to achieve the same level of fame in Scotland, though, as the governing body behind Scottish women’s football banned Reilly from representing her country. No reason was ever given.

We reported last year how the legend was given an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list and an honourary degree at Glasgow Caledonian University.

She said at the time: “I’ve had to overcome many hurdles in my career and my advice to anyone, particularly women and girls, facing barriers in any area of life is not just simply to jump over them or get around them, but to smash them down if you can.”

The 64-year-old, who grew up in Stewarton, started playing football as a child for the local boys’ team and was once scouted by Celtic before they found out she was a girl.

She played with Stewarton Thistle Ladies and was part of the team that won the inaugural Scottish Cup in 1971.