Louisa Nécib (born 23 January 1987) is a French women’s international footballer who plays for French club Olympique Lyonnais of the Division 1 Féminine. She plays as a central attacking midfielder and is described as a “gifted playmaker” who “possesses superb technique”. Nécib is also known for her “elegant possession, sublime passing skills, and cultured touch on the ball”. She has been labeled by the French media as “the female Zidane”, primarily due to having an Algerian background, growing up in Marseille like Zidane, and having immense skill.

Nécib began her football career playing for local youth clubs in her hometown of Marseille, such as Union Sportive Marseille and Celtic de Marseille. With the latter club, she made her senior team debut in 2003 and, in the following season, helped the club win the Division 3 Féminine. In 2004, Nécib was selected to attend CNFE Clairefontaine, the women’s section of the Clairefontaine academy. She spent two years at the training center, and in 2006, departed for Montpellier of the Division 1 Féminine. In her only season with Montpellier, Nécib helped the team win the 2006–07 edition of the Challenge de France. After departing Montpellier, she joined Lyon. Since joining the club, Nécib has won a slew of trophies, which include four league titles, one Challenge de France, and one UEFA Women’s Champions League title. For her performances during the 2008–09 season, she was named the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Female Player of the Year.

Nécib is a former French women’s youth international having represented her nation at all levels for which she was eligible. At under-19 level, she played on the teams that reached the 2004 and 2005 editions of the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship. With the under-20 team, Nécib played at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship scoring a goal in the group stage against Argentina as France reached the quarter-finals. Prior to playing in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, Nécib made her senior international debut in February 2005 in a friendly match against Norway. Two years later in March 2007, Nécib scored her first senior international goal in a UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 qualifying victory over Greece. She has participated in three major international tournaments for her country; the 2005 and 2009 editions of UEFA Women’s Euro and the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In the latter competition, Nécib acted as the playmaker and contributed to the team that finished in fourth place.

Nécib was born on 23 January 1987 in the city of Marseille to parents of Algerian origin. Her father emigrated to France from Biskra, while her mother moved to France from Oran. Nécib was raised in Busserine, a quarter located in the northern suburbs of the 14th arrondissement of Marseille and has a brother and sister. After signing with Lyon, Nécib enrolled at the Université Lyon 1 with hopes of completing her undergraduate studies in Sciences et techniques des activités physiques et sportives (STAP) (English: Science and Technology of Sport and Physical Activity). She developed an interest in football at a young age, prior to which she trained in gymnastics. She, initially, did not look at the future prospects of women’s football and played mainly for recreation with males stating “I’d always played with the boys in my neighborhood” and “I didn’t plan to join a club because, to be honest, I didn’t know girls’ teams existed. Then, one day I found out there was a club in the 14th arrondissement and I signed up”.

Nécib primarily plays as a central attacking midfielder, but can also occupy the roles of a deep-lying midfielder and a winger. Domestically, she primarily plays in the playmaker role, while at international level, she plays as a winger in Bruno Bini’s 4–3–3 formation. Two of Nécib’s most common exemplary traits is her vision and passing, which has been described as “one-of-a-kind” and “sublime”, respectively. She is also known for her distinct understanding of the game, which has led to her developing “a great football IQ”. Her understanding has allowed her to determine “when to take a defender on one-on-one, how to find a teammate with a slide-rule pass, and how to exploit tight spaces to create scoring chances for herself and her cohorts”. Since making her debut with Celtic de Marseille, Nécib’s playing style, ability, and cultural background have drawn comparisons to French legend Zinedine Zidane. The midfielder admits its an honour to be compared to Zidane, but has regularly attempted to disassociate herself from the player stating “Being compared to Zidane is really nice, but I don’t think it can harm me because I’ve been hearing it since I was very young. It always makes me proud, but as I always say, I don’t think you can compare anyone to him. He’s unique”. While training at the Clairefontaine academy in 2004, Nécib met Zidane, who was at the training center in preparation for 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification matches. The two players exchanged shirts and the shirt Nécib acquired from Zidane is currently in the possession of her father.

Louisa