‘I slapped him’ - Former Newcastle United star reveals hilarious Hatem Ben Arfa story

Hatem Ben Arfa is one of many French mavericks who have dazzled for Newcastle United
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Sebastian Bassong has opened up about the time he “slapped” Hatem Ben Arfa during a Premier League fixture.

Although the two never crossed paths at Newcastle United, they were both products of France’s famous Clairefontaine football centre. The breeding ground of talent has produced superstars including Karim Benzema, Thierry Henry and Paris Saint-Germain talisman Kylian Mbappe.

Ben Arfa was also destined for greatness but a career plagued by discipline issues ultimately failed to realise its potential. Toon supporters witnessed some of his finest moments, with the Frenchman key in qualifying for Europe under Alan Pardew 12 years ago.

Still not officially retired, Ben Arfa last played for Lille almost two years ago and, at 36, his days at the top level appear over. In October 2011, Bassong was well-accustomed to life at Tottenham when he travelled north to take on former club Newcastle.

Ben Arfa was easing his way back to full fitness following an almost career-ending leg break and played the final 19 minutes of a 2-2 draw. The Magpies were chasing the game, with Shola Ameobi yet to score a left-footed equaliser, and Bassong remembers losing his rag on the pitch.

“Hatem Ben Arfa is such a kid that, the only time I played against him, he wanted to dribble me more than play for the team,” he told RMC Sport. “He kept telling me he was going to beat me. I played against him in the Premier League when he was at Newcastle and I was at Tottenham.

“As a little anecdote, the only time I played against him in England, he came on and wanted to dribble past me more than play for the team. I slapped him on the back of the head and told him to play properly! He kept saying ‘I’m going to beat you, I’m going to beat you!’ Playing against him… he was my brother.”

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