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The former Marseille man now playing for the Magpies has revealed his spectacular goals and performances are down to the new attitude given to him by his manager

Newcastle United playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa has revealed his recent eye-catching form is down to a new-found maturity drilled into him by manager Alan Pardew.

Ben Arfa has been labelled as a trouble maker since his teenage years in France, where he lived out his rebellious streak which involved brushes with the French police. However, since recovering from his broken leg, he has been helped by Pardew to change his attitude.

And the manager now describes the 25-year-old's attitude as ‘exemplary’.

The former Marseille man has undoubted talent but has not always been trusted to play in games from the start. But the Toon boss now believes he has the correct discipline to warrant a place in the starting line-up.   

Ben Arfa told The Sunday Mirror: “I am happy that I’ve not got that bad-boy tag any more.

“I have gained maturity. We all ­improve in life and I feel that I did. We all do bad things in life but then we have to rectify them and get better.

“There was big pressure on me in France. But it is part of life and I take ­responsibilities for that status.

“It was good to come to England. I feel less of the pressure that there was in France.”

Ben Arfa missed almost all of last season because of his horrendous leg break and then missed the majority of pre-season with an ankle injury. Now he has praised Pardew for getting him through that difficult period.

He added: “When you’re a ­football player, you want to be on the pitch. But I ­carried on with training, getting fitter and trying to get better.

“Alan Pardew told me to keep training hard. He ­insisted that I was here for training all the time – the more you train and the better you train, the more likely I was to be on the pitch.

“I have been waiting for an ­opportunity to play games. Now it is here, I want to make the most of it.

“It is a 90-minute energy that you need in England. The coach and the staff put that philosophy into us all the time and it helps. But the coach lets me play my game. I feel good here.”

The talented midfielder has set his sights on two targets for the rest of the campaign, to fire Newcastle into Europe and claim a place in France's squad for Euro 2012 this summer.

The Frenchman said: “Of course I have to be playing for ­Newcastle and doing well to make the French team.

“If my performances are good enough, I can be part of the French team. I think the next 10 matches are important for ­Newcastle as far as a ­European place goes.

“The character and personality of the team will be very important in these 10 games. I really hope we can make it into ­Europe.”

Meanwhile Pardew has nothing but praise for the way the player has matured during his time at Newcastle, saying: “Hatem has shed his bad-boy image.

“He has been ­exemplary here. He is low maintenance, trying to learn, trying to understand the way we play.

“It hasn’t been that much of a ­challenge for me. Last year, when he was injured and frustrated, we had a few problems trying to get his mind ­focused.

“He is now in a place where he knows it is a very important part of his ­career and he knows he has good people around him.

“Maybe being out of France has helped him because he is a ­high-profile player there. When you have the ­talent that he has, ­everyone expects you to produce it all the time and you can’t.

“But if he keeps putting the work-rate in, he will produce the ­moment like he did at Arsenal – and hopefully he can do it again against ­Norwich.”


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