When Vicki Becho, one of France’s most exciting young talents, first started to play football, it was a secret. In the eyes of her mother, it wasn’t a sport for girls, so every time she went play for her club, her neighbour and her aunt would cover for her.
That was until the day her aunt took her mother to a match. She thought she was going to watch her son, who played in the same team. She was in for quite a surprise when she saw her daughter on the pitch instead – but it was a surprise she took well.
“That’s when she changed her mind,” Becho tells GOAL. “She let me play football.”
It’s no wonder she was so easily swayed. Becho has incredible natural ability, further influenced by YouTube videos of Cristiano Ronaldo that she would watch before every match she played.
Her other idol was Lucho Gonzalez, the Argentine midfielder who spent three years in France with Marseille. “The first boots that my coach offered me had been signed by him,” she explains. “They were my lucky boots.”
Her progress as a young girl was certainly not down to luck, though.
At the age of 15 and part of the Paris Saint-Germain academy, she was already playing with France's Under-20s. A year later, she won the Women's U19 European Championship, scoring twice in the 3-1 semi-final win over Spain.
This summer, the 18-year-old is in Costa Rica with her country, to compete at the U20 Women’s World Cup, where France will play Japan in the quarter-finals.
Her club has changed this time as, in 2020, Becho made a high-profile switch to Lyon, the eight-time champions of Europe. It’s a move that certainly doesn’t guarantee playing time for the young prospect, but incredible exposure to the world’s best.
“When I arrived at PSG, I immediately saw the difference with my old clubs. It was already much more professional,” Becho says. “At PSG, everything was harder.
"I had just left the city where I had grown up to join this club. I had a hard time finding my bearings in the beginning, we knew that the spots to go up with the professionals were very limited, so we knew that the only way to climb the ladder was to make people talk about us thanks to our performances and our potential.
“I chose to leave PSG to join Lyon because I know myself, I like to rest on my laurels, and by signing at PSG I knew that I would have playing time. But in Lyon with a much bigger squad, it would be more complicated to impose myself.
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“I have chosen a challenge that will shape me in the future. I experience things that I probably would never have experienced in Paris, but I prefer to live them today when I am young to be ready to face any situation later.
“Everything is different in Lyon, because in Paris I was the young prospect of the training centre and in Lyon I am just a footballer who fights to make a place for herself. PSG has given me a lot and that's why this club will always have a special place in my heart.”
In her first year with Lyon, the skilful attacker was a regular in the club's matchday squads, making three appearances off the bench in the league and another in the Champions League – her competition debut.
But last season was her most important yet, as it saw her join Reims on loan for regular minutes. When the opportunity to bring in a player with so much quality arose, head coach Amandine Miquel wasn’t going to let it go by.
“In France, she got quite famous when she was 15, as she was with the U20s already,” Miquel tells GOAL. “There are few profiles like this in the world where you have such a mature football player, that are 15 or 16 and are already very good. We knew that she would really help us.
“She's a very attentive player. She is very hard on herself. She wants to score all the time. She really has that striker mentality, getting goals, being efficient on her offensive choices.
"She has very good technique - very big quality in both feet. She's got good power. Few women's players have that power in their shot, but also the precision. She's one of those rare players.”
Having been at PSG and Lyon, Becho hasn’t had lots of playing time in the top-flight, and Miquel believes you could “clearly” see development from even just one season with Reims.
“The rhythm she showed in training, she was starting to recover her speed, her offensive speed to get past opponents, and she was accurate on her shots,” she explains.
“She definitely has a big margin of improvement, so she will be a very good player. I think she's starting slowly to understand that being a player of Lyon is nothing if you don't play. She needs to really show them that she has the ability to make the level, to make the group at some point - and she's only 18, so I trust that she will do it at the right time.”
That is Becho’s next big aim after the World Cup. She chose the loan so she could bring “more maturity” back to Lyon and it’s clear that she has with the way she speaks about her development. She believes her defensive game improved at Reims, but would like to improve her work-rate – something not many would be so honest about.
“First of all, [I want] to win the U20 World Cup and then get into a regular rotation at Lyon when I return,” she says.
It’s a tough ask for any player to break into the best team in Europe – one that just won the Champions League again. But Becho recognises the challenge and she’s willing to work for it.
After all, she certainly has the ability to get there.