Marcus Maddison on being rejected by Newcastle United – and his friendship with Hatem Ben Arfa

Marcus Maddison has opened up about being released by Newcastle United as a teenager – and his friendship with Hatem Ben Arfa.
Marcus Maddison.Marcus Maddison.
Marcus Maddison.

The Peterborough United winger was let go by the club in 2013 without making a first-team appearance.

Maddison turned his career around at Gateshead before moving to London Road.

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“It was difficult, to be honest,” said the 26-year-old. “To get released at 19 was hard to take. I was late to the party, and I didn’t play my first professional game until I was 20.

“Newcastle finished fifth in my last season there, and not a single player from my age group got a pro contract. A lot of us youngsters ended up getting released, and I didn’t think we all deserved that, but maybe I was a bit naive as well.”

Maddison had joined Newcastle’s youth set-up from Sunderland, his boyhood club.

“I was at Sunderland before I came to Newcastle, and I was a Sunderland fan growing up,” Maddison told The Athletic. “Then, when I went to Newcastle, I tried to become a part of it there, which wasn’t easy when most of my family are Sunderland fans. I had to ignore all of that.”

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At Newcastle, Maddison befriended mercurial winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

“I learned so much from watching Hatem Ben Arfa and hanging around with him,” said Maddison. “We were quite close. The guy could go past anybody with ease. Watching how good guys like him are up close, it’s just amazing. He’s a top footballer and I wanted to be like him.”

Maddison’s career could yet come full circle, as he’s been linked with a move to Sunderland.

The County Durham-born player scored twice in Peterborough’s 3-0 win over the club earlier this season.

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“You never know in football,” said Maddison, who has scored 50 league goals for Peterbrough. “It was nice to score against the team who didn’t want me.

“I don’t know where my career will take me. Hopefully, I can go far with Peterborough but, in the future, you never know. If something comes up, then who knows.”