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Tyne Talk

Exclusive – Full Translation Of Ben Arfa’s ‘Controversial’ Interview

10 years ago

The interview that Hatem Ben Arfa did at the weekend brought more negative headlines for Newcastle United but what Hatem really said, gives us all a lot of hope.

We covered the main misleading headlines that had been circulated in [intlink id=”22933″ type=”post”]What Ben Arfa Really Said[/intlink] but now we bring you the full interview from the half hour programme.

Thanks as always go to our Pierre who as you will see below has put in an enormous amount of work translating it for our benefit.

What is important to remember as well is that this isn’t a one to one interview where the person answering the questions is prepared for a formal interview, if you watch the video here on Beinsport (and listen, if your O Level/GCSE French is up to it!) you will see it is a relaxed group/panel show where they have a round robin discussion and a lot of it is light hearted.

Taking small twisted quotes from it is sharp practice at best…

What comes through loud and clear though is that Hatem Ben Arfa really really loves it at Newcastle and his big message is that he will definitely be staying just so long as Newcastle United show ambition…

Are you feeling better, we know you are at Clairefontaine at the moment?

HBA I have been injured for a month now (he thanks the various people dealing with his injury) and explains that when he is injured he comes to Clairefontaine.

When you got injured they said it would be 2 weeks?

HBA At the beginning I was doing fine but I came back too soon, the club was not sure – we came to an agreement but I was impatient and when you see the matches at the weekend you want to play, it was a mistake on my part. Especially when you have a muscle injury, I should not have played, I played and I am paying for it.

The medical methods and approaches are very different in England, there seems to be a lot of physiotherapy…

HBA Personally I prefer the French approach and it is what I am used to since I was young, hence I feel it is best that I come back to Clairefontaine.

We have read the article in the Parisien, followed various social medias and blogs and it has been announced your desire to join PSG.

HBA We need to put things into context; I was asked questions such as ‘is PSG a club that is part of your dreams’ and I said yes of course, when I was small I was a fan of PSG and it is a club I would have liked to play for but today I am at another club, Newcastle, which is in a difficult position. We hope that we can do the maximum and remain in the league and finish the season well. After that I don’t know… that if there was a proposition from PSG of course I would consider it but today it is not the case.

Does that mean that at the end of the season you intend to leave England, Newcastle, to progress and go to a bigger club, it is a great club but not a club at the top of the league?

HBA At the end of the season we will have a discussion with the owner and the coach, if they show they have ambition then why not stay but if they have no ambition then I prefer to leave and play for titles and have a greater challenge, but if they have ambition why not stay?

What do you mean by that, you mean in terms of recruitment things like that?

HBA Exactly.

All the French who are arriving at the moment, is this good news and does that show they are ambitious?

HBA At the moment they are ambitious (Having signed Debuchy and at the time believing Remy was a done deal), they should have done it sooner, it was talked about. But what they have done so far is a good approach but there are many areas on the pitch where we need reinforcements.

Do you talk to the owner and the coach about French players?

(Either didn’t understand the question or didn’t hear it for all the guests talking on top of each other!)

HBA There are two things as to why Newcastle recruits lots of French, my arrival and then Yohan Cabaye, it gave a good image and the fans have really supported us and the people at the club have really appreciated us and hence they are recruiting French players.

But it is not just you, it is the number that makes it that the French think that Newcastle adores the French…Ginola for example

HBA Robert over there is still regarded as a star, it’s incredible, they are still talking about him, at Newcastle they like the French.

(They show a screen with names of all French players and the irony is that Remy is on it as acquired!!!!! 8mns 40s in)

There is also a belief in the coach with a contract of 8 years?

(Either didn’t  understand the question or didn’t hear it for all the guests talking on top of each other, or in this case maybe he did not want to answer the question!)

HBA A belief with French players, there is a lot of talent in France, a lot of young talent, after that the championship is a little weaker but at the players level there is a lot of talent in France.

We feel by watching you that you are at a transition period, you are 25, you have embraced the club of Newcastle with love but it is not a club that wins any titles, we know that you want to be reunited with the French team and the world cup of 2014 is on the horizon. We feel that you are torn between this club who has looked after you when you were injured and the ability to return to the French team. Are we on the right track?

HBA You are spot on. Yes I have a lot of love for this club, it is really the only club that has given me the environment, the responsibility and the love and the fans. I feel really loved, I love this club but at the same time I am ambitious, I want to win titles. I was able to win titles when I was at Lyon and Marseille, that is why I am at a crossroads and as I said earlier it all depends on their ambition – if there is ambition I can stay but if there is little ambition I will go.

Then Omar Da Fonseca slags off English football saying they play fast , too fast – Bha! Bha Bha!….

HBA agrees briefly with him but also shows him that he is missing the point!!!

HBA Yes there is a difference, English football is not Spanish football, yes they don’t play as much with the ball, especially the smaller teams, but the intensity is something else, it is impressive, you play the bottom team and you feel it is like Manchester United, there are no small teams in England, every match is a proper football match. There are differences in the pure football but in the intensity and the desire to win, it is at a higher level.

A disagreement starts between Omar Da Fonseca & Fabrice Ferri (another guest) who adds that the physical demands, the speed and the intensity is what makes the English game. Omar Da Fonseca feels that he prefers quality rather than quantity!!!!

We feel that you have evolved tactically, there is a very special relationship between you and your Coach Alan Pardew, we feel that at last you are a real pure no10 and with the arrival of Debuchy it should help you even more… we feel as if you are liberated not playing on the left or the right, you are a better player.

HBA Well yes I am seen as a no10 but at Newcastle I am not a no10, I play on the right but with lots of freedom, the coach has told me to go right or left. I am nearly a no10 but I am not a no10. With the arrival of Mathieu Debuchy, with a player like this he creates lots of space for you, I feel that we are going to get on great very soon.

Then returning to the French team is mentioned and whether Didier Deschamps has been in touch, or whether HBA has been in touch. No is the answer but they have crossed each other in Clairefontaine and have had a friendly chat. HBA feels that his football will do the talking and that Didier Deschamps will not close the door and that he will only consider his football. HBA appeared very happy about it.

They all feel that he has really matured and England has had a good effect on him. HBA feels that in France they criticise more and in England the media has shown more respect towards him but then again he admits that he has not done stupid things in England whereas in France he had!

We are in  the middle of the transfer window, we spoke earlier that if there was a proposition from PSG you would consider it, what about if I mention a few clubs to you and you tell me if yes.


HBA  yes


HBA yes


HBA yes

These clubs are above Newcastle and do you feel they could make you progress in order to regain your place in the French team?

HBA Yes, today they are above that’s true but if we have good recruitment we can rejoin them.

Has there been any contact from Chelsea and Arsenal?

HBA Yes, last year in the summer, it did not happen – I too wanted to stay in Newcastle, I felt I had an important year to prove at Newcastle but I still have contacts with some clubs.

But is your desire to really stay in England?

HBA Well if Real Madrid or Barcelona comes for you you can’t say no! (smiling)

Or have you found somewhere where you can grow?

HBA Yeah… (but is interrupted by Fabrice Ferri)

HBA …..once you have a taste of England it is really hard to go elsewhere, the way of life is brilliant and so is the league. There is everything to be happy in England. Whether you are at QPR or Everton it is fantastic, every fan believes their club is the biggest in the world.

Does that mean that Loic Remy was right to join you?

HBA yes he is right (massive smile)

Another French, did you get in contact?

HBA No, I have not seen him yet.

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