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'Hatem just sat there laughing as Steve Bruce blew a gasket'

As questions are asked about the characters within the Tottenham Hotspur changing-room, former Hu...



'Hatem just sat there laughing...
Soccer

'Hatem just sat there laughing as Steve Bruce blew a gasket'

As questions are asked about the characters within the Tottenham Hotspur changing-room, former Hull City midfielder David Meyler drew on the example of Hatem Ben Arfa to show how supreme talent is usually worthless without a work ethic to match it. 

In the aftermath of Spurs' shock Europa League exit on Thursday evening, Hugo Lloris publicly condemned unnamed players for failing to give their all for the club irrespective of whether they are content or not with their personal situation or playing-time.

Comments which suggested strife within the Spurs changing-room, former Hull City midfielder and Ireland international David Meyler brought his own experience to the table on OTB Sports' Saturday Football Show.

Going back to his time with The Tigers, Hatem Ben Arfa came to mind.

"One of the most gifted players I've ever played with," admitted Meyler, the Cork native remaining on good terms with the former French international despite their disappointing spell as teammates.

"But when we had to report for training by 10:00 am, Hatem would turn up at 9:59:59 am. You had to be out on the pitch and ready to go by 10:25 am and Hatem would stroll out at 10:24:59 am.

"He wouldn't tie his boots, he'd saunter around training but this boy was so gifted."

Signed on loan from Newcastle United for the 2014/15 season, Ben Arfa was intended to give Hull City the spark required for Premier League football after they had just escaped the drop the season before.

Despite showing glimpses of what he could do before and after his one season with Hull, Ben Arfa's profligate approach to the day-to-day requirements of being a football could not be overlooked on account of anything he was bringing to the team.

"You had the likes of myself, [Paul] McShane, [Stephen] Quinn and we were there every day grafting and putting in as much effort as we could," he recalled, "and he would just toss sessions off completely.

"But when we would walk out towards training he would be like, 'I'm going to nutmeg you, you and you today,' and he could take the ball and just go past five or six, take it around the 'keeper and have an empty net but take the ball back to go around a defender again.

"I'm looking at myself then and it is frustrating, because I looked at it as if he was wasting his talent... If I had his ability and my mentality I'd be at Real Madrid."

For manager Steve Bruce and Ben Arfa's teammates, it all came to a head when Hull took on Manchester United with the French midfielder starting in midfield.

"The manager took Hatem off after about 35, 40 minutes," Meyler explained, "and at half-time he got the stats that Allan McGregor who was in goals for us had run more than Hatem Ben Arfa in the first-half.

"I remember Steve Bruce blew a gasket and went off at him, but Hatem just sat there laughing at him."

Ben Arfa

A season that would see Hull City relegated to the Championship, Meyler admitted that Ben Arfa's approach served to ultimately frustrate his teammates also.

"On a Monday morning training session," he remembered, "[I was among] the lads who hadn't played and we were going through our paces getting a full workout.

"Something just cracked between myself and Stephen Quinn and we lost it. The issue was raised and Hatem was eventually told he wasn't wanted anymore.

"You can't let [problems like that] exist in a changing room."

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David Meyler Hatem Ben Arfa Hull City Manchester United Premier League Steve Bruce