Not officially retired from football, Hatem Ben Arfa (36) is back playing sports competitively, but to the general surprise, he doesn’t have a ball at his feet. Indeed, the ex-France-international has opted for a new sport, padel, and he seems more applied than he had ever been in his football career: “That’s all he does now, he plays almost every day“, said Roland Mermillod, a referee who officiated for several of Hatem’s matches, to Le Parisien.
Ben Arfa’s last professional football appearance dates back to April 2nd 2022, and a 0-0 draw between his two last clubs, Lille and Bordeaux, which was infamously concluded after the final whistle. The Frenchman had then had an altercation with his coach Jocelyn Gourvennec, to whom he said: “We don’t play like a team who is aiming for European spots. We’re not Guingamp!”, as reported by RMC, referencing Gourvennec’s past club in a disrespectful manner. He had then been excluded from the professional group, never playing another game, as his contract with LOSC ended in July of that year.
Now a passionate padel player, he utilises his quick feet and changes of pace for a different cause, and to some degree of success. Indeed, he ranks 1342th out of 42300 competitive padel players in France, showing that he remains a great athlete, regardless of how his career ended.