At 29 the OGC Nice's star player is being talked about more than ever.
After a successful season in which he scored 16 championship goals, the attacking mid–fielder is in the sights of top European clubs. "Football is my whole life. I started playing as soon as I could walk – sometimes I feel I was born with a football in my hands. Later on games with friends developed into training, and encouraging results plus people close to me gave me the motivation to turn professional. Back then I already knew that football was everything to me. Before matches I always try to isolate myself, concentrate and set myself objectives by working out priorities and a strategy. But luck has played a part too. There was a match in England in 2010, against Manchester City, when I broke two bones. I spent a month in hospital, where without knowing I was infected with staphylococcus aureus. I went off to Tunis for rehabilitation and my knee started bothering me. My doctor insisted that I return to Paris to go into hospital. If I hadn't followed his advice I wouldn't have my leg today and that would have been the end of my career! I'm so grateful to him."
Stay true to yourself
"My life is immensely busy but it's important to find time for myself. I like eating nice food, although I'm not a great cook. I love organising meals with friends, playing chess or watching a good film – I'm a Chaplin fan! Although I'm a public figure, I've never been very comfortable at celebrity social events; if I can choose I prefer spending time with my friends. Perhaps that will change when I've a girlfriend but for the time being I'm single. A sports career demands an enormous amount of time, it's hard to envisage a stable private life and think of the future. I live one day at a time, making sure I always stay true to myself."
Nous remercions chaleureusement l’hôtel Le Negresco pour son accueil.
Hatem Ben Arfa est habillé par la boutique Emporio Armani, à Nice.
Interview : Angela Donava
Photos : Gil Zetbase