Ben Arfa’s delight at France call after an ‘eternity’ in the wilderness

IN-FORM ... Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates a goal.
IN-FORM ... Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates a goal.

NEWCASTLE United’s Hatem Ben Arfa has told of his joy at returning to the international fold with France.

The 25-year-old was yesterday named in the first of Laurent Blanc’s two preliminary squads ahead of the European Championships.

Ben Arfa – who suffered a horrific double leg break last season – hasn’t featured for France since August 2010.

The forward’s call-up follows a return to form at Newcastle, where he has been influential in recent months.

“I have just found out my pre-selection for the Euros,” Ben Arfa told his own website.

“I feel great personal satisfaction from achieving this, and want to express my great gratitude to all those who supported me in recent months.

“Personally, these 18 months have felt like an eternity. Since I’ve played football, I’ve always had special relationship with the shirt I wore for the youth teams.

“I would go to the Euros with humility and ambition.”

Blanc, meanwhile, said: “His talent was always there, and always will be, and he has shown more maturity this season.”

Ben Arfa is joined in the squad by his United team-mate Yohan Cabaye.