His first name, Zinedine, his flocked number 10 jersey and his technical gestures on the lawns of Ligue 1 did not go unnoticed. Top scorer (3) and passer (3) of Nîmes Olympique, Zinedine Ferhat is one of the rare satisfactions of the current Gardoise formation red lantern before his trip to the Park, this Wednesday evening (9 p.m.). At 27, the Algerian international (11 caps) has reached a milestone this season. “He’s a hard-working player. He always sets goals higher, says Mourad Ibri, his friend and agent. He is a simple person. He devotes himself to his profession, to his family and to his child. His dream today is to participate in a World Cup with the Fennecs (Editor’s note: the nickname of the Algerian selection). »
Zinedine’s story begins in Algeria. Gifted, he started his professional career at 18 at USM Algiers. His ease on the ball and his efficiency in the last pass make him one of the most attractive players in the championship. “He was already perceived as one of the hopes who would make an international career,” recalls Rolland Courbis, his coach at USMA in 2012-2013 and consultant on RMC. He had enormous physical and athletic potential. He can evolve as a playmaker but also on the entire right side both offensively and defensively. “
The record of assists in the history of the L2
Selected for the first time with Vahid Halilhodzic’s Fennecs in 2013, he found himself at the heart of a controversy three years later. The federation suspends him for an indefinite period because it considers that he had left, without warning, the gathering of Hopes to sign his contract in Le Havre (L2). “The federation had received all the authorizations from the player and the club to go and sign his contract,” says those around him. As Zinedine was leaving free, so without compensation for his former club, the president of USMA then put pressure on the federation to suspend him. “Best player in the Olympic qualifying tournament a few months earlier, Zinedine is deprived of the Rio 2016 Olympics because of this sanction.
In Le Havre, he will quickly be talked about. “He had to adapt to L2, a new country and other training methods, but quickly he showed great things in training and in matches, remembers Oswald Tanchot, his coach in Le Havre. . He is more interested in the last pass than the finish even though he has a good shot. He has a complete technical and athletic background, he goes fast, he is powerful and good of the head. He is a charming and serious boy who sometimes needed to be pushed. “
In 2017-2018, he achieved the record of assists (20) in the history of the L2. His performances arouse envy. Many clubs like Nantes and Lille are positioning themselves but the president of Le Havre is asking for a transfer fee of 7 million euros to let him go. Too much for his suitors. After a last half-hearted season in Normandy, he signed in Nîmes in June 2019.
“It took on an extra dimension this year”
In the national team, he is part of the plans of coach Djamel Belmadi even if there is strong competition for his position with Riyad Mahrez and Sofiane Feghouli in particular. “He is a dream player for a coach,” supports his coach Jérôme Arpinon. It took on an extra dimension this year. We had set goals for him to increase his statistics in L1 and he has started doing so since the start of the season. He is above all a winner, he cannot stand defeat. “
At the end of his contract with Nîmes in June 2022, Zinedine will find himself courted during the offseason. “He just needs to be given a chance at a bigger club,” said Arpinon. He will be able to evolve with bigger players around him and to flourish even more. And Courbis abound. “He is a valuable player for a coach because he can evolve in 2 or 3 positions. I will not be surprised if an important club in France or abroad shows up next summer. “