Lisa Zimouche, famously known by her Instagram handle, lisafreestyle, broke new ground when she was just 14, leaving PSG’s academy to forge a career as a freestyler. Today, she is considered one of the best street footballers on the planet.
Most people don’t have a clue what they want to be when they’re 14-years-old. Then again, Lisa Zimouche isn’t most people. Born and raised in Paris, Zimouche’s first introduction to football was through the winding back alleys and concrete pitches on the outskirts of the city.
The Parisian streets have always held a special place in Zimouche’s heart, so when she was signed to PSG’s academy and coached in a regimented fashion, it didn’t sit well with her carefree upbringing.
“I just need a ball and I can dance,” she said in an interview with Soccerloco. “I don’t need a team, I don’t need a coach. I can express myself the way I want.”
It didn’t take long for Lisa to realise she wasn’t compatible with the professional game. So, aged just 14, she made the brave decision to leave the capital’s academy and pursue a new career, hyper-focused around her passion: street football.
Her parents had their concerns, but as the youngster told the BBC, “For me it wasn’t a risk. I knew what I was doing.” And it didn’t take long for Zimouche to make that emphatically clear.
Not one year after leaving PSG and Lisa had her first trophy in the cabinet. She won the 2015 Female Panna World Championships – a street football concept which involves one-on-one games where the aim is to nutmeg your opponent.
Street football allowed Zimouche to express herself in a way eleven-a-side simply didn’t. For her, football is much more than just a game: it’s a lifestyle choice. Street football acts as a melting pot of cultures, where you take inspiration from all walks of life and incorporate it into your own play.
In Zimouche’s case, that meant transmitting her passion for music into her football. The freestyler is a big fan of Beyoncé, and channels the singer’s grand performances on the pitch everytime she competes.
The freestyler’s also taken to Instagram to show off her tricks in every location imaginable. Judging by her 2 million followers, it’s fair to say her skills are universally appreciated.
Her exploits have even seen her grab a sponsorship deal with Puma. “I’m a street player and I mix street soccer and my lifestyle and for me, Puma is the best to do it with,” she recently told Soccer Nation. “They are doing good work with me. They know I love playing football, freestyle, street soccer. And they know I love listening to music and they have a nice blend of that feeling.”
Now 20-years-old, Lisa has shown that there is no right or wrong way to forge a career in the beautiful game. The world is her pitch and she’s taking it over, one nutmeg at a time.