'I was a Premier League cult hero - now I've quit football and am excelling in another sport'

A former Premier League ace is making waves in a new sporting arena after seemingly calling time on his football career.

Hatem Ben Arfa, once a shining light at Newcastle United, hasn't officially hung up his boots but has been without a club since parting ways with Lille in 2022 following a fallout with boss Jocelyn Gourvennec.

The talented playmaker, who also turned out for top clubs like Lyon, Marseille, Hull City, Nice, and Paris Saint-Germain during his time in England and France, is now 37 and has taken a swing at padel - a sport akin to tennis but played on a more intimate court.

Impressively, Ben Arfa has notched up 70 tournament wins in just one year. By the close of 2023, he was said to be ranked within the top 1,500 of 42,000 competitive players globally.

Roland Mermillod, a top official in padel, offered fans an insight into Ben Arfa's dedication to his new passion. In an interview with Le Parisien, Mermillod said: "Hatem doesn't do anything more than that. He plays almost every day."

Despite a noteworthy career on the football pitch, there was always the feeling Ben Arfa did not fully tap into his vast potential. His fitness and lifestyle choices off the field often drew criticism from those in football.

The player's ex-agent, Frederic Guerra, didn't hold back during a candid interview with RMC Sport. He said: "It's a psychological thing from his childhood.

'i was a premier league cult hero - now i've quit football and am excelling in another sport'

Newcastle v Manchester United Premier League

"He was king, king, king. He was always told what he deserves but never told to work. I was convinced that I had a player that, if we worked on his mind, would win the Ballon d'Or.

"He was so talented. It's a huge waste maybe the biggest waste in football of the 21st century. "There are plenty of players that were told early on that they would be pearls and still made it. Cristiano Ronaldo became a huge worker early on, Karim Benzema took exactly the same route.

"It takes work, talent is not enough."

If Ben Arfa was to retire from football tomorrow, he will leave with an impressive trophy collection. He has won five Ligue 1 titles, three French Cups, and three French League Cups over the course of his career with Olympique Lyon, Marseille and PSG.

Ben Arfa's last match was a 0-0 draw against Bordeaux while playing for Lille, all the way back in February 2022.

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