Olympique Lyonnais are making a serious bid to achieve the sort of success in the women's game they have achieved in men's football - and the signing of rising star Elodie Thomis is proof of that.
The striker made a name for herself before her 17th birthday when she was part of the France squad that won the 2003 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, and within two years she was playing at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™. Thomis's next feat came in the following season's UEFA Women's Cup, when she scored three times in Montpellier Hérault SC's 6-1 aggregate quarter-final triumph against Brøndby IF, and against 1. FFC Frankfurt in the last four they missed out only on away goals. But this summer the 20-year-old, along with long-standing team-mate Louisa Necib - dubbed the 'female Zinédine Zidane' - were lured to Lyon to spearhead their maiden European assault.
Thomis will turn 21 on the final day of Lyon's UEFA Women's Cup first qualifying round mini-tournament in F.Y.R. Macedonia against ŽNK SFK 2000 Sarajevo, Slovakia's FK Slova Duslo Sala and hosts ZKF Skiponjat, and is excited by joining such a famous club. "They're a great team," Thomis told uefa.com. "The men have been French champions for a long time. I've seen the infrastructure and it's quite impressive. At Lyon, you do not talk about women's football as a hobby." Of course, the chance to return to the UEFA Women's Cup was a factor in her decision to move. "It's obviously more motivating than the French league," Thomis said. "It's as if you were playing with your national team."
Lyon are certainly taking their European challenge seriously; as alongside Thomis and Necid they have established French international midfielders Sonia Bompastor and Camille Abily, striker Hoda Lattaf, plus Brazil duo Simone and Katia. "We can win it," Thomis stated. "When Montpellier reached the semi-finals two years ago, our squad was far less impressive than Lyon's today." Her understanding with playmaker Necib could certainly be a useful weapon. Thomis explained: "I've known her for a long time. I've played with her at youth level, with Montpellier and the national team. We know each other off by heart." But are the Zidane comparisons appropriate? "Yes and by the way we do call her 'Zizou'," Thomis added. "She doesn't like that! She always says you can't be compared to what can't be compared."