Hatem Ben Arfa: “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.
“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. 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.
“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.
“I’m more mature as a person and more mature as a footballer. The two go hand in hand, the basis of the player is the person. I’ve grown up.
“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.
“The supporters have helped me a lot, not just in helping me get back from my injury, but also when things have not gone so well for me on the pitch.
“We feed off each other. It gives me that little bit extra at Newcastle I’ve not had at other clubs. They encourage me to take risks, to try and make things happen. When things go wrong, they just want me to keep going, to keep trying. I feel really loved.
“It is the ideal marriage for me. I love the passion of the game here, it is incredible. I thrive on that. It gives me a lot of pleasure to play football in this country.
“I’ve not had a close relationship with a manager before. Alan 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.”