Nice winger Hatem Ben Arfa has spoken out on his enforced exile to the reserves during his time at Newcastle United, describing the period as “hell”.
Following an initial loan spell, Ben Arfa was signed on a permanent deal by Newcastle in January 2011 and quickly became a fans’ favourite at St James’ Park.
However, his Newcastle career came to a bitter end, a fall-out with then manager Alan Pardew leading to the Frenchman being banished to the reserves.
A loan move to Hull City followed in September 2014, but his spell at the KC Stadium was brief as Ben Arfa fell out of favour with boss Steve Bruce, with Newcastle then terminating his contract in January this year.
Ben Arfa joined up with Nice that month, only to see his contract cancelled as it was ruled he was ineligible to play for the Ligue 1 club having already featured for Newcastle’s reserves and the Hull first team in the 2014-15 season.
But Ben Arfa was re-signed by Nice in June and has earned a recall to the France squad for this month’s friendlies with Germany and England courtesy of a run of form in which he has scored seven goals in 14 games.
Asked about the final months of his Newcastle career, Ben Arfa told France Football: “It was a very, very difficult period. The worst of my career.
“It was a hell at Newcastle. There, on the first day back in August 2014, I was placed directly with the reserves – a terrible humiliation.
“Weeks passed and I was always with these young 16, 17-year-olds away from the pros. I did not understand. They made it a nightmare. It was full of little cheap shots. And when I believed I had got out by signing in Nice, they were forbidden to hire me.
“I had the feeling of being locked in a dark room without a door, or in an endless tunnel. I saw hell and especially no solution to my problems.
“At that time, I was wrong, I did not see any light. I was a prisoner. I told myself every day to not let go. I tried to convince myself that the light was coming back, I was going to find the right path.
“By signing this summer with Nice, I really felt out of hell. In fact, that’s it – I’ve come back from hell. “
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