At 34, former Mannschaft international Mesut Özil announces his retirement from football
He conquered Germany thanks to his “light foot”, before slamming the door of the Mannschaft amid accusations of racism: German playmaker Mesut Özil announced on Wednesday that he was retiring at the age of 34 . “Over the last few months and weeks, after suffering from several injuries, it has become increasingly clear that it is time for me to leave this great world of football,” explained the 2014 world champion in a long message. posted on Twitter.
The former Werder Bremen, Real Madrid and Arsenal player, during his completed career with Turkish club Basaksehir, unleashed passions on and off the pitch. He signed up with Basaksehir for one season last July, after a difficult stint at Fenerbahçe where he came into conflict with his management. Özil had already ended up in the closet at Arsenal, his previous club.
Beginnings in apotheosis
The story had however started well: “It’s the new number ten of Germany”, trumpeted the magazine Stern in June 2010 about the kid from the Ruhr. Born of Turkish parents, the playmaker and his German-Tunisian team-mate Sami Khedira are doing wonders at the South African World Cup, in which Germany finished third, and is not long in being erected as a symbol of a multicultural Germany.
A photo summarizes the beautiful story: shirtless and all smiles, Özil shakes hands with ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel. After the World Cup, Özil signed with Real Madrid, a springboard to the German triumph of 2014 in Brazil, where he will paradoxically be less attractive than in South Africa. His long hair has disappeared in favor of a wiser cut, the German lends his image to Adidas.
“I have two hearts”
But his career took a turn in May 2018: Özil and his Mannschaft teammate Ilkay Gündogan, also of Turkish origin, posed in London with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the midst of his re-election campaign. The cliché is controversial, while Berlin accuses Ankara of repressive drift. The Turkish head of state responds by drawing a parallel between contemporary Germany and Nazism. Shortly after, Germany, world champion, is eliminated from the group stage of the Russian World Cup, a humiliation.
Özil becomes the scapegoat of the extreme right. Some German media also blame him. Dropped by the president of the German Football Federation, Özil ended up slamming the door of the Mannschaft in July, for “as long as I (feel) racism and disrespect towards me”. “Erdogan is the current president of Turkey and I must show respect to this person, whoever he is,” he pleaded. A year later, Özil chooses Mr Erdogan as his best man when he marries a former Miss Turkey, Amine Gülse.
And even if it means saying what he really thinks, he is indignant at the treatment reserved by China for the Uyghur Muslim minority. In response, state television CCTV cancels an Arsenal match against Manchester City. The Gunners then distance themselves from Özil, anxious “not to get involved in politics”. On a siding in London, the 32-year-old midfielder had chosen to live his first experience in Turkey by joining Fenerbahçe in January 2021, before joining Basaksehir last summer.