Necib following in famous footsteps
The comparison is so obvious as to be almost too easy. However, when you began playing football on the streets of Marseille and boast Algerian roots, the links are as apparent as they are inevitable.
Add to that the fact Louisa Necib wears the no. 10 on her back, possesses superb technique and is as shy and retiring as she is talented, then not mentioning a certain Zinedine Zidane would be nothing short of obtuse.
That is doubly true given that she herself is keen to evoke 'Zizou', her childhood idol. Eleven years old when he struck twice in the FIFA World Cup™ final on 12 July 1998, the former Real Madrid man's exploits that day marked her for life, not least because she had already caught the football bug.
"Actually, I'd always played with the boys in my neighbourhood," she recounted in her thick southern French accent. "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 (of Marseille) and I signed up."
From there, Necib moved to Celtic de Marseille, where her excellent technical ability was quickly spotted and earned her a place at the National Coaching Centre at Clairefontaine. Aged just 16, it was to be a testing experience. "The first year was really hard because I was so far from my family. I almost gave up," she admits. However, thanks in large part to the friendships she formed, particularly with Elodie Thomis , the youngster buckled down and stuck to her task.
As a result, she now finds herself in the France U-20 side, having finished runner-up in the UEFA Women's U-19 Championship last year. She was even called up to the senior squad for the UEFA Women's Championship in England that same summer, but, like Zidane, Louisa does not seem swept up in the quest for stardom and personal glory.
"I'm not thinking about the 2007 World Cup ," she explains. "I'm back in my own age-group and I'm focused on that. I'd be delighted to go to China, but that's not at the forefront of my mind."
Unsurprisingly, progress on Russian soil is what concerns her most right now and, following a relatively successful first round in which the prime objective was achieved, the Montpellier ace is feeling confident: "We got off to a good start against Argentina, we beat Congo despite lacking a little efficiency and we held off the USA quite well. That's a pretty satisfying record."
'I need to be more combative'
Listening to her willowy voice, it would be tempting to think Louisa fragile or nervous. Instead, she is simply calm, especially when it comes to analysing her own performances.
"There are always things you can improve in your game," she says. "I need to be more combative, in particular when I lose the ball. I get told that a lot."
Mopping up further back is clearly not her cup of tea, but then the same was often said of her illustrious idol. Likewise, she is not about to panic about the clumsiness up front that crept into France's last two games. "I'm not worried," she said. "We just need to keep working on our finishing. There's a slight lack of confidence and maybe we've been snatching at our chances a bit, but that won't last."
She and her team-mates will be hoping that prediction proves accurate, because finding the back of the net be of the utmost importance against a Korean side for whom she evidently has the utmost respect. "They're lively and quick girls who put team moves together with near perfection," she warns. "We'll need to play close to one another to deny them as much space as possible."
That said, the gifted playmaker is determined not to worry too much about the opposition: "At this stage of the competition, any team is going to be difficult. It's true that playing against Germany would have given us a chance for revenge after the 2006 European (U-19) Championship final , but I don't think it would have changed much."
Undaunted and refreshingly straightforward, Louisa makes it almost impossible to forget 'ZZ' even in conversation, but she is quick to contradict should anyone compare her playing style to her idol's. "No, Zidane is Zidane," she counters, protective of France's footballing icon and admirably modest.
Ask her to describe her own approach to the game, however, and after a long pause, her choice of words proves telling. "My role is to direct play," she says, adopting perhaps the perfect phrase to sum up the career of her fellow no. 10.