Profiles - Lassad

Squad Number 2011/12: 8
Date of Birth: 8 March, 1985
Place of Birth: Marseille (France)
Nationality: French-Tunisia (International with Tunisia since 2009)
Contract: 2007 - 2012
Transfer: Free Transfer (Jan 2007, from Chateauroux B)
Career: Deportivo (2009-now), Deportivo B (Jan 2008-2009), Chateauroux B (2006/2007), Ajaccio B (2004/2006)
Buy-out Clause: 10 Million Euros
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Position: Attacker (central)

Attacker LASSAD NOUIOUI was the more pleasant surprise that emerged from Fabril during the season 2008/2009. He was picked as an emergency solution due the injury crisis that Lotina was facing at the first squad, and after just two games, he convinced everybody and signed a professional contract that will keep him at Depor’s bay until the year 2012.

Lassad was a little kid that used to play football at rue Saint Gabriel in Marseille (the striker confessed that there he met Arsenal’s player Nasri), he spent 22 years in France before moving to Spain, but his heart was always Tunisian, as he later confessed during an interview, “I am 100% Tunisian, for me it’s like that. I am French; I was born there and it's a good country. Marseille is also a nice city for me, but I prefer to play for Tunisia. Especially for my family, if the French national team would call me and I would be forced to choose, I will always choose Tunisia. I was born in France and I spent almost 22 years there, but my mother is from Tunisia and also my heart.”

His arrival to Deportivo can be considered as an accident, at the end of the year 2006, Deportivo B was completing its first half of season at Segunda División B after spending six years at Tercera. The squad was surprising everybody as it was fighting for the promotion to Segunda Division A instead of been struggling to achieve the permanence, but there was a problem: the lack of goals. Neither Aridane nor Ruben Rivera were adding goals for the team, actually defender Juanan or defensive midfielder Carlos Pita had more goals in their account than the duet in attack.

Then, the coach of Fabril, Tito Ramallo, decided to do something that Depor B had never done in the previous seven years: to sign reinforcements in the winter window, more precisely an attacker capable of bringing goals. Several youngsters were tested for the job, among them Lassad Nouioui. Nobody heard from him before, his agent just sent a printed report to Ernesto Bello, who at the time was the coordinator of the young categories at Deportivo, then he passed the report to Ramallo. The report was telling the history of a player that had scored 87 goals within five years with teams from League 2 in France (St. Gabriel Juvenil, Ajaccio B and Berrichonne Chateauroux B). Lassad arrived to A Coruña on December of 2007, he came to Abegondo alongside Soufiane Bencharif and Mareck Amir as part of a ‘package’ prepared by one of the countless agents that visits Abegondo. Unfortunately for the Marseille-born forward, he got injured during one of the practices with Depor B. But Ramallo noticed interesting things in the boy and asked him to return when he was healed. Then the attacker returned two weeks later and immediately, he signed a one-year deal with Depor B.

Ramallo later explained why he took this decision, as he said to a reporter in February of 2008: “We have tested like 20 players within the last two campaigns. Swedish, French, Portuguese, English… of everything. Among them we found Lassad. We thought he was matching our requirements and that’s why we signed him.” And very soon it was demonstrated that Ramallo’s bet was worthy. On February 3rd 2008, during his debuting match with Fabril, he scored two goals in just twelve minutes against San Isidro. In then end, he scored 9 times during the 16 matches that he spent at Fabril during the final part of the season 2007/2008. 

Depor’s coaching staff was happy with him and in June 30th 2008, the club announced a renewal of one year with the striker, this time with the option to extend it for three additional years. And Lassad continued demonstrating his value; he scored 8 goals with Fabril during 20 games played at the start of the season 2008/2009, taking his tally to 17 in 36 presentations with Fabril. However, it wasn’t enough and this time Fabril was fighting to survive instead of searching for the promotion. But the situation of Deportivo B wouldn’t block the ascend of Lassad, The French-Tunisian started to train with the first squad in November of 2008 as the coach of the first team, Miguel Angel Lotina, got interested in him and wanted to follow his evolution. Then a plague if injuries affected the squad and suddenly, the Basque trainer was forced to pick him for a liga encounter. On January 31st, 2009, Mista was discarded for the game against Villarreal due to an adductor problem, with already out injured and with Omar Bravo at the national team of Mexico, Lotina called Lassad in order to join Riki as the two alternatives in attack for the game.

After he was informed of the news, Lassad talked at Abegondo’s press room and showed his satisfaction with his situation, "In a personal level, I am very content because this is an important opportunity. I was training with Fabril preparing tomorrow's game (at Guijuelo) and at the end of the session, the coach told me the news and I am content. It is a surprise. I guess I would play two or three minutes, it is going to be great, and if I score a goal, it would be better."

And Lassad was close to score a goal during his debut at the first squad, just as he scored a double against San Isidro during his debut at Fabril. The Marseille-born attacker performed for the last five minutes against Villarreal, the game was already decided (3-0 for Depor), but Lassad showed his skills and was close to score during a one-to-one action against keeper Diego Lopez, but his shot was blocked. Lotina was happy with the boy, and he stayed for the following visit to RCD Mallorca, again Lassad entered as a replacement, and this time his contribution was bigger has he provoked a penalty that earned a point for Depor. He was tackled by defender Nuñez inside the penalty area; and Verdú scored the equaliser from the penalty spot.

Suddenly, Lassad was in vogue, he appeared in all the papers of Galicia and Spain. And to make things bigger, Riki got injured in the next week and Lassad ended as the starting choice in attack for the home match against Osasuna (February 15th, 2009) Two days before, the attacker signed a new and professional contract that was linking him with Depor until the year 2012, a deal that included a buyout clause of ten million Euros. A quick move of president Lendoiro trying to keep a promise that half Spain was already looking at.

The match against Osasuna turned to be a goalless draw, but the true is that Lassad shone with his skills despite been his first match as starter, he even hit the post after a great cross from Lafita. He repeated his appearance in the starting eleven for the visit of Valencia, it was a new draw for Deportivo (1-1), but again Lassad awoke all kind of positive comments with his performance, he even was picked as the best player of the game by Peña members. Then, at the start of March, Lassad made his fifth appearance with Depor’s first squad, this time during the visit to Numancia, he wasn’t able to score but he hit the post again, and again after a cross coming from Lafita, in the end Depor won the game and one more time, Lassad impressed with his moves.

The ‘daring’ behaviour of Lassad in just five games at Primera División was not something surprising for the coaching staff of Depor. Andrés Bello , the former coordinator of the youth squads, assured that the striker is ready for any challenge, “Lassad, fundamentally, possess velocity and goal. He knows how to define the plays; he never complicates the plays and will score at any division he plays.” Bello said to newspaper La Opinión. And Tito Ramallo added to this comment: “He is a player that lives for the goal, besides he knows how to create danger. He possesses explosive changes of pace and knows how to finalize the plays. Technically, he is good.”

In a personal sense, Lassad has been described as a very peaceful person, as Ramallo said to a reporter: “He is an introverted kid, very shy and educated. It’s hard for him to establish a communication, but he has a good relation with everybody. He is so serious and responsible, that his presence is a positive thing for the whole team.” It has been reported that he lives in the region of Vilaboa with his team mate and compatriot from Fabril, Momar Diagne During an interview, the Tunisian attacker said that he admires Zinedine Zidane, but that he doesn’t have any idol, something that goes against his Muslin religion, “He is not my idol. There are some footballers that I like, as example Zizou, but I do not have idols. I don’t worship anybody, neither a player nor a person. I just like Zizou like any other player: Maradona, Pelé… I just look the moves of Van Nistelrooy, Eto'o and Berbatov. They are pretty good, I watch their moves and learn.”  

Despite the good presentations of Lassad, the Tunisian was missing something: to score goals. No matter that Riki and the other strikers started to surpass their injuries and despite the problems at Fabril, Lotina decided to keep Lassad at the first squad. After the game at Numancia, Lassad made a new appearance as starter, this time at the Riazor against Racing Santander. Depor scored five times in that game, but Lassad didn’t score although it was able to assist Riki in the goal that meant the partial 2-2. He later played as starter against Sporting (2-3 loss) and against Betis (1-1 draw). Again he missed to conquer goals, and it was until the visit to RCD Espanyol (matchday 29, April 5th, 2009) that he was able to score his first goal at Primera División. It was a combination between Guardado and Lafita that Lassad sent to the back of the net. But it had a bittersweet taste for him, because Depor lost that game (1-3) “I am not content at all. At the end my goal is not worthy for the team, which is the important thing. We missed [remains silent a few seconds], how they say it in Spanish? Courage (garra), we lacked courage, but we have to think of the next match, which is against a direct rival. In this match, the last place was better than us, but neither was so superior." He said after the game at Montjuic.

But despite the result, Lassad was now a normal starter in the squads of Lotina; he played the next three games and scored his second goal of the season during the visit of UD Almeria to the Riazor, this time after collecting a good pass of Filipe and passing the ball between the legs of the keeper. And his third goal arrived two matchdays later as he scored the winning goal over Valladolid thanks to a pretty combination with Bodipo. But his luck changed soon, because Lassad started to suffer from muscular problems (hamstring), reason why he missed the last four matches in liga. Later it was determined that his muscles in the hamstring region were shorter than normal, reason that was causing his problems. However, the attacker had the time to accomplish one of his dreams: to debut with the national team of Tunisia. It was on June 6th, 2009 during a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mozambique (2-0 win), he replaced Sami Allaqui at minute 54 though he had to be replaced a few minutes later due to a new muscular problem.

Despite the injury problems that Lassad was starting to suffer, there were high hopes on him ahead of the season 09/10. But the truth is that he disappointed, mainly because he never had the needed continuity due to his endless hamstring problems. In the end the ex-Fabril only played in the half of the liga matches, making ten shots on target and only scoring two goals; Very poor stats for a player that possesses the skills to do a better job. The same Lassad was aware of his lost year, as he said, “The truth is that I have a negative picture of myself from last year, but when I think of it... it’s that it wasn’t my fault; it was because of the injury. It can’t be the same this year.