Hatem Ben Arfa has revealed he was almost lost to football after falling in with a strict religious group.
The Newcastle midfielder became a follower of Sufism - a branch of Islam - and says he was “indoctrinated” and “virtually cut off from the rest of the world.”
But the £5million attacker says he was made to kiss the feet of the ruling Sheikh - something his ego would not let him continue doing.
Ben Arfa, also claimed his “father never loved” him as a kid and opened up about his troubled early career, while insisting he is now on a path to becoming a model pro with Newcastle.
The France international has expressed his frustration, yet again, at being left on the bench by Toon boss Alan Pardew, as we was for the weekend win over QPR.
But he says that instead of seeking conflict, he will stay patient, knowing that he is physically and mentally ready for action.
The 24-year-old admits that he used to be “arrogant”, and gave off a “negative vibe”, because of his tough upbringing.
On his religious experimentation, Ben Arfa said that, when he was a teenage prodigy with Lyon, he was introduced to a group practicing Sufism by French rapper Abd Al Malik, and joined them in Morocco.
He revealed: “I was in a bad way, and seeking well-being. I read a lot of books about Sufism, and the good things about it attracted me. As Abd Al Malik was interested in it, I contacted him, and I soon got involved.
“He and his manager indoctrinated me, at a time when I was very vulnerable.
"They placed their sheikh on a pedestal. They kept on telling me that everyone who went against Sufism was an enemy. They conditioned me, and at one stage I wanted to follow them.
“I had an idealistic view of religion at the time. They virtually cut me off from the rest of the world. I was part of a movement with a spiritual leader - a sheikh. When I went into the prayer hall I had to kiss his feet - it was compulsory.”
Luckily, he feels, Ben Arfa say his “ego” rebelled against the foot-kissing: “My ego saved me. I could not accept doing that. I didn’t like what I was experiencing with them. I was a long way off the spiritualism I was seeking.”
He confirmed: “I am a moderately practising Muslim. I don’t eat pork, but I’ll drink alcohol at times - and I love chasing girls!
“Now I can’t be taken in any more. I was a famous person, yet I could have ended up in a sect - thankfully I managed to get out.”
Ben Arfa has has had a reputation for causing trouble in the past, but says he won’t be clashing with Pardew.
Newcastle are easing him slowly back into the starting line-up after a long spell on the sidelines recovering from a broken leg and want to see a more aggressive work-rate, but on the ball Ben Arfa has been sensational in patches.
The Paris-born star told French newspaper L’Equipe: “I still feel frustrated at not playing, but instead of clashing with the manager, as I used to do in the past, I let the matter drop - as I know I would end up on the losing side.
"I submit to his authority while keeping my philosophy of favouring an all-action, passing game.
“I am patient. It’s a very difficult situation for me, as I love football, but I respect the manager’s decisions and continue to work hard.
“He favours a direct, long-ball game, and often tells us to cross the ball into the box. But I won’t clash with him.
“My time will come, I know I am ready mentally and physically, and know what I have to do on the pitch.
“That wasn’t always the case before. I have far more of a team mentality nowadays.
“I’ve always had huge problems in respecting authority. I had a lot of frustration in my family when I was growing up, and took it out on others.
“My father never told me he loved me. My life lacked generosity - while he always backed me he could never express his feelings.
“My dad grew up without a father of his own. He copied the example he’d had, and I am trying to break the mould for the sake of my progress.
“With hindsight I can see how people took me for someone overly sure of himself. I was giving off a negative vibe - I had bad energy. I was arrogant. I was a victim of my own impulsiveness.
“I’ve done some terrible things in my career. They were more down to my attitude than to what I said, and they displeased the people around me.”