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Oct 8, 2012

Ben Arfa: Pardew helped me change

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has revealed his relationship with Alan Pardew is the best he has had with a manager during his career.

• No charge for Van Persie
• Blog: Toon roll over at home

Ben Arfa, 25, originally joined the Magpies on loan from Marseille in August 2010 before making the move permanent just four months later in January 2011.

During his time in France, the wide man often courted controversy, earning him the nickname 'l'enfant terrible'.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Ben Arfa said: "I've not had a close relationship with a manager before. He (Pardew) knows when I need to be praised and when I need to be criticised."

"He asks me questions. He doesn't let me do what I want, but he doesn't just tell me what to do either."

"It's the best relationship I've had with a manager and he has been very important to me at Newcastle. He is the coach who has understood me the most."

Despite a bright start to his Newcastle career, Ben Arfa suffered a nasty leg break just weeks after joining the club. During the months of recovery, the former Lyon player admitted that his time spent thinking allowed him realise that perhaps he needed to mature - amid thoughts of whether he had a career to return to at all.

"I did think my career could be over. It is impossible not to think a bit like that when your leg is broken in two places," said Ben Arfa.

"I was angry about it at first, but as time has passed, I'm not angry anymore. It was a hard tackle, but I'm OK and it has made me a stronger person, maybe a better person."

"When you are not playing football for such a long time it gives you a lot of time to think. It made me contemplate what football meant to me. I think it was an important period."

He added: "I realised a football career is something that is over very quickly. I needed to make the most of the time I had, not waste it."

"I had a reputation for being hot-headed, but I feel as though I've grown up. I'm calmer now, more serene, but that comes from being more mature. Young footballers are selfish. I was selfish. It was all about me and what I did. When you are young you think about showing off, you always want to prove yourself, to be the centre of attention.

"You want people to say you are the best, but as you get older you realise it's a team game and to bring out the best in yourself, you have to put yourself at the service of the team."

Having also earned a recall to the French national team in the summer for the European Championships, Ben Arfa believes English football has improved his game as well as taught him a defensive work ethic that didn't previously exist.

"I'm arriving at my peak, I'm starting to realise my full potential. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but I'm pleased with how things are going. I'm a better player now than when I signed for Newcastle," He revealed.

"Playing in England, I've learnt you have to work hard all the time. When I came here, if I lost the ball, I didn't try to win it back, now I always try to get it back."

"You always have to give 100 per cent. Every game is tough, whether you are playing the best team or the worst. That is English football's charm."

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