25-year-old Ben Arfa has been interviewed in the Sunday Mirror today, and he says he thinks he has improved as a person and gained some maturity while on Tyneside.
Hatem Ben Arfa – dropped that bad boy image
Ben Arfa has had a difficult season, with not too many starts in the Newcastle first team, but we’ve been impressed with the lad’s commitment, and the fact that he hasn’t complained about things, but just got on with doing his job.
He has scored 4 goals and has three assists in his 24 appearances for Newcastle so far this season, and will likely start on the right wing in today’s home game against Norwich City.
This is what the former Lyon and Marseilles player said:
“I am happy that I’ve not got that bad-boy tag any more.” “I have gained maturity. We all improve in life and I feel that I did. We all do bad things in life but then we have to rectify them and get better.”
“There was big pressure on me in France. But it is part of life and I take responsibilities for that status.” “It was good to come to England. I feel less of the pressure that there was in France.”
“When you’re a football player, you want to be on the pitch. But I carried on with training, getting fitter and trying to get better.” “Alan Pardew told me to keep training hard.”
“He insisted that I was here for training all the time – the more you train and the better you train, the more likely I was to be on the pitch.” “I have been waiting for an opportunity to play games. Now it is here, I want to make the most of it.
“It is a 90-minute energy that you need in England. The coach and the staff put that philosophy into us all the time and it helps. But the coach lets me play my game. I feel good here.”
Ben Arfa has not been part of the French squad since he arrived on Tyneside, but of course he suffered a terrible double fracture of his left leg in early October of 2010 at Manchester City, and has come back from that well, and shown ample courage and fortitude along the way.
And he is the scorer this season of probably the best individual goal ever scored at St. James’ Park in its 120 year history, and it was against against Blackburn Rovers in January, when he beat four or five players before rifling the ball home with that wonder left foot of his.
And his goal last Monday night against Arsenal wasn’t too bad either.
His double ambition through the end of the season is to get Newcastle into European competition for next season, and to also be included in the French squad for the European Championships this summer in Poland and the Ukraine.
Ben Arfa continued:
“Of course I have to be playing for Newcastle and doing well to make the French team.” “If my performances are good enough, I can be part of the French team. I think the next 10 matches are important for Newcastle as far as a European place goes.
“The character and personality of the team will be very important in these 10 games. I really hope we can make it into Europe.”
And it seems that Alan Pardew has done an excellent job in the way he has man-managed the mercurial player, and Alan paid his compliments to Ben Arfa:
“Hatem has shed his bad-boy image. He has been exemplary here. He is low maintenance, trying to learn, trying to understand the way we play.” “It hasn’t been that much of a challenge for me.”
“Last year, when he was injured and frustrated, we had a few problems trying to get his mind focused.” “He is now in a place where he knows it is a very important part of his career and he knows he has good people around him.”
“Maybe being out of France has helped him because he is a high-profile player there.” “When you have the talent that he has, everyone expects you to produce it all the time and you can’t.”
“But if he keeps putting the work-rate in, he will produce the moment like he did at Arsenal – and hopefully he can do it again against Norwich.”
Hatem Ben Arfa is in his best form ever for Newcastle at the moment, as he adjusts to the faster paced English game, and he is also now willing to do the work that Alan Pardew requires of any player who wears the Newcastle shirt these days.
Ben Arfa can score goals out of nothing and seemingly from any position on the field, and we’ll need some goals today, if we are to get back to our winning ways against a good Norwich City side.
Maybe Ben Arfa can oblige with another goal today.