Yesterday we brought you the news that Hatem Ben Arfa had launched his very own website, the content currently only in French but an English option arriving soon.

Writing on his website, Ben Arfa has talked at length about his life in England and discusses red meat, pubs, St.James’ Park, autograph hunters, timing of meals and the press!

It is great to see a player coming through the tough times and then feeling able to express himself both on and off the pitch, a marked contrast to the at times lonely figure we saw making fleeting appearances earlier this season.

The world is quite literally his oyster…in the colours of Newcastle United! (Once more we are yet again indebted to ‘Pierre’ for the translation services)

I Feel Good In Angleterre

The first time I arrived in Newcastle in northern England, I thought, “Me, the Mediterranean, I could never adjust to a city as grey and cold.” Then when I started to live here, I realised that the most important was not necessarily based on first impression.  Eighteen months on, this country and this city, I’m starting to really be a fan!

For those who find it difficult to locate on the map, Newcastle is the second city (after Sunderland), in the north of England, located 1 hour from the Scottish border. Moreover if there is a match not to miss in the season, the derby “St.James’ Park” against the “Black Cats” (nickname of the team Sunderland). The city is very student orientated, with a very busy shopping centre and also full of cultural centres (including the magnificent “Theatre Royal”) and lots of places to party. Here, if you do not like the atmosphere of the pubs, you might as well leave the town! The city must have at least five hundred of them. The English pub, there is no real equivalent in France, you stay there for hours, drinking, eating, chatting, playing games and reliving the matches  again …

On the culinary side, me who is a lover of good red meat, I am still struggling to find my feet. The English are very fond of chicken they eat it with in every possible sauce, be it (ketchup, curry …). Meals are eaten much earlier tha in France (they eat between 18:00 – 19:00) and lunch is just something very basic.

In the street, the English are much more “natural” than the French. Their look is much more relaxed and uninhibited than in France. Especially, I envy them to not feel the cold!

What I realised in discussions, it is the absence of taboo subjects. For example, you do not shock anyone by talking openly about money or health. Another point, the person you are speaking with is listening to you unlike in France. However, to be well understood and to really understand it is best to learn English because few people here make the effort to learn a foreign language.

In the street, when people seek an autograph or a picture, it’s always with extreme politeness and friendliness. Even if you don’t always do it, they accept it with dignity and move on with an apology. On the whole you are forgiven everything as long as “you do the job” on the pitch.

Here, the press is everywhere; there must be ten times as many newspapers and magazines than in France. The English buy them by the kilo and you can also read them for free in any pub. The hate of the players is to be found mentioned in the tabloids, with their limited methods. Your career may suffer suddenly and your image destroyed.

In the club, the relationship with the manager is closer and more transparent than in France. It’s very cool yet very professional. Your manager naturally is owed respect and no one would go against his authority. In this “club culture” any disobedience or misbehaviour  will be fined!

Ray Mills
Ray Mills 5pts

He's done himself proud And apparently shows his authority in dressing room when we've been woeful (many times). And not scared to dish stick Oot to so called 'seniour pros'. Good on u son. #cares

GORDO1674 5pts

A well thoughtout and factual based article on Elliott. It's fair to say he has grasped a great opportunity.

Krul, has like a few at the club recently, become complacent which was plain to see from the stands.

Elliott although hardly your athletic goalkeeper mould....( remember the 1st class Neville Southall ) is a great shot stopper and is improving game by game.

In my opinion he was given a chance through someone's else's misfortune and he has taken it big style.

Krul has much work to do when fit again to get the jersey back.

Morpeth mag
Morpeth mag 5pts

IMO he has been our player of the season, his standards have been the same in every game, I wasn't a fan of his, but he has changed my mind, his distribution is far better than Kruls (who's kicking is abysmal and he always takes too long to release the ball after catching it, giving the the opposition the opportunity to get there shape back), in fact I'm starting to prefer him to Krul, if only he had a strong defence in front of him,,,,

amacdee 5pts

Good read Jonathan, never was an Elliot fan but this latest stint between the sticks has changed my opinion. I also agree he's a talker and there is the faint possibility of him taking over the captaincy next season when Colo finally leaves ? Ironically Fattie sacked all the voluble players in the dressing room hopefully he now realises they're an important part of any team ?

1957 5pts

He has earned the right to be first choice and when TK is fit again he will have to wait for his chance IMO.

Personally I was never comfortable with him in goal previously, he looked overweight, slow to react and indecisive. I don't know what has changed for him, but I suspect the departure Woodman may have something to do with it. He is clearly a leader in the team now and has spoken with the press more than Colo has in his whole NUFC career.

Philippines 5pts

The unfortunate thing about being the 'reserve' goalie is that you can be World class player but understudy to "World class plus 1%". Take Steve Harper…. I never had any qualms when he was in goal. I always thought that if Steve had got more playing time he could have got an England call up. He was a great servant to NUFC.

Greg Codling
Greg Codling 5pts

I say play till he loses form, revolve, do the same with Tim

wor monga
wor monga 5pts

A good article…Elliot has always been a first class professional at the club, who waited for the opportunity, and when it happened went on to prove his quality. 

...Now when Tim gets back he won’t expect to be the automatic first choice again, but will have to wait for an opportunity to take the jersey back…and that’s a healthy situation for the club!!

MrDolf 5pts

It's terrifying to think where we'd be without this guy's contribution this season, gives his all. I wish we could put his SIM card in some of the others.

Regarding the injury, I noticed he seemed reluctant to kick long on Saturday, preferring to play it out to a defender. Hopefully our forthcoming enforced break will help with any healing needed

amacdee 5pts

@MrDolf We'd be at least three points worse off for sure.