Hatem Ben Arfa did not make the French squad for the European Championships held in Switzerland and Austria in June of 2008.
Ben Arfa in action for France
In 2008, while he was at Lyon, Ben Arfa was one of the players omitted from the final squad in the final cut made by then French manager Raymond Domenech, and Ben Arfa was really cut up about it.
The French International is now a much more mature young man, but that doesn’t stop him from dreading it may happen again, when Laurent Blanc names his final squad of 23 tomorrow night.
France will play Iceland in a friendly tomorrow, and Ben Arfa is expected to play to show Laurent what he can do, after completing a very good season with Newcastle United, during which he scored six goals, all of which seemed special.
Ben Arfa spoke to the local Newcastle press today:
“I have knots in my stomach. I was shocked in 2008 and it probably took me a whole season to get over it.”
“But this is football. I will respect the coach’s decision even if it does not go my way. I don’t know what will happen. All I can do is try my best and hope the coach takes me to the championships.”
“I am 25 now and I am far more mature as a person and as a player compared to four years ago.”
Yohan Cabaye is also in the provisional squad, but the 10 times capped French International central midfielder is almost a cast-iron certainty to be in the squad, and very likely to start in the first game against England on June 11th, which is two weeks come Monday.
The French manager is not particularly looking forward to telling the four players who will not make the final squad of 23 that they haven’t made it:
“I wish I could take everyone. Nobody from my original 35 deserves to miss out.” “I remember 1998 when some good friends were left out of the World Cup in our own country it was awful. It affected all of us.”
“But this is part of being a coach and I will gently let down the players who have not made the squad. I will be honest with them, but they will still not be happy about it.”
Marseilles Loic Remy missed the last four weeks of the season with a thigh strain, and Laurent may not risk him, and that could make the case to include Ben Arfa, but Laurent knows all about the magic Ben Arfa has performed for the Magpies this year.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew made sure of that.
We really hope both Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye make the final French squad of 23 – fingers crossed – and we’ll know soon enough.