Although Zlatan Ibrahimović ushered in the new Ligue 1 season with a pair of goals, FC Nantes forward Yacine Bammou was the toast of French football this weekend – a year on from his days selling Ibrahimović shirts in the Paris Saint-Germain club shop.
Bammou enjoyed a fairy-tale introduction to the top flight at the Stade de la Beaujoire, coming off the bench and scoring with just his second touch 32 seconds later as Nantes defeated RC Lens 1-0. It was a remarkable moment for the 22-year-old, who was playing for amateur club FC Evry and working as a vendor for champions Paris just over a year ago.
"What's happened is extraordinary," said Bammou, who joined Nantes's reserve team last summer but was loaned out to third-tier Vendée Luçon Football in the winter – and failed to notch a single league goal. "I didn't expect to score in my first match. I still need to improve and become more consistent. I'm still young, I have a lot to learn and my goal is to win a place in the side."
Bammou owed his chance on Saturday to the sale of Filip Djordjević and the absence of Etey Shechter, not to mention an impressive set of performances in pre-season, when he scored in three games. "Yacine is discovering the professional level," explained Nantes coach Michel Der Zakarian. "He's sharp, comfortable with his back to goal and has great stamina, but he needs to bulk up to be stronger in challenges."
Given his remarkable rise in an era when few players come into the game after the age of 20, Bammou will surely be extra motivated to put in the work required – particularly as the Canaris visit the Parc des Princes on 6 December. For the Franco-Gabonese forward, that match will stir up memories of his time as a Paris employee, and fleeting chats with the likes of former director of football Leonardo.
"Leonardo used to say hello to me in the morning when he arrived at the Parc," recalled Bammou. "One day I even offered my services to him, but he laughed and said: 'You really play football?' I often met Ibrahimović, [David] Beckham and Co in the corridors of the Parc des Princes last year. They won't believe it if they see me on the pitch."
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