Hatem Ben Arfa has described his spell at Newcastle as “hell” and “a nightmare”, and has accused the club of fining him for putting on muscle.
After signing for Newcastle in 2010, Ben Arfa soon became a fan favourite at St James’ Park, scoring 13 goals in 76 Premier League appearances under the tutelage of Alan Pardew.
However, the relationship between player, club and manager turned sour at the start of last season, with Ben Arfa being forced to train with the reserves before joining Hull City on a season-long loan in 2014.
The drama concerning the Frenchman did not stop there, with Tigers manager Steve Bruce admitting he did not know where Ben Arfa was, before the winger returned and his contract with Newcastle was cancelled in January.
Ben Arfa then signed for French club Nice but, having already played for Newcastle and Hull that season, was ineligible to feature for his new side until August. The 28-year-old’s form since has seen him earn a shock recall to the France squad, but Ben Arfa does not harbour fond memories of his time in England.
“It was a very, very difficult period. The worst of my career,” he told France Football. “It was as if (my) hell began (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 and 17-year-olds on land away from those pros. I did not understand. They gave me a nightmare. It was full of little cheap shots.
“… And when I believed in me (getting out) by signing for Nice, they were forbidden to hire me (until July).
“They gave me a letter with a fine because I’d apparently put weight on over the summer. I had, I’d put on 2.5kg, but that’s because I’d done a lot of weights. I’d even made my body fat percentage drop! They also took away my number 10 and gave me number 26 without telling 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 was slapping 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 come back from hell.”