Ben Arfa: My ego saved me from religious cult…

“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.”