Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Mesut Ozil announces immediate retirement at the age of 34

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Mesut Ozil has confirmed he has retired from football at the age of 34 with immediate effect.

The former Arsenal midfielder and Germany international had been playing for Turkish top flight side Istanbul Basaksehir since joining in the summer but has only made eight appearances for the club following injury problems.

Back issues have largely caused the the playmaker to feature in only 187 minutes of football this term having moved from Fenerbahce following 18 months at the club. 

Ozil revealed the news on Instagram in a statement reading: ‘Hello everyone, After thoughtful consideration, l’m announcing my immediate retirement from professional football.

‘I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity.

Mesut Ozil has confirmed his immediate retirement from football at the age of 34

The ex-Arsenal star announced his retirement on social media site Instagram to his followers

The ex-Arsenal star announced his retirement on social media site Instagram to his followers

‘But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it’s become more and more clear that it’s time to leave the big stage of football.’

Ozil left the Gunners in January 2021 having been frozen out by current boss Mikel Arteta, but in a statement he showed no ill feeling towards his former club where he won four FA Cups after signing for £42.5million from Real Madrid to much fanfare in 2013.

‘It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions,’ he added.

‘I want to thank my clubs – Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Fenerbahce, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus team-mates who have become friends.

‘Special thanks must go to my family members and my closest friends. They have been a part of my journey from day one and have given me so much love and support, through the good times and the bad.

‘Thank you to all my fans who have shown me so much love no matter the circumstances and no matter which club I was representing.

‘Now I’m looking forward to everything that is in front of me with my beautiful wife, Amine, and my two beautiful daughters, Eda and Ela – but you can be sure that vou will hear from me from time to time on my social media channels.

‘See you soon, Mesut!’

Although Ozil’s career fizzled out in Turkey owning to his fitness related issues, the midfielder was once seen as one of the best creative players in the world.

After starting out at Schalke he was called up to the senior team in 2005 before joinng Werder Bremen in 2008. After continuing his rapid rise, he was handed his first of 92 Germany caps in 2009 before announcing his talent globally the following year at the World Cup in South Africa, featuring in the team that trounced England 4-1 in the last-16 in Bloemfontein. 

That earned a move to Real Madrid where he won LaLiga under Jose Mourinho’s reign and during his time produced an incredible 81 assists in just 159 games. 

Shortly after his high profile move to Arsenal from Madrid he played a crucial role in helping Germany win their fourth World Cup during the tournament held in Brazil, where he featured prominently including in the famous 7-1 win over the host nation in the semi-final as well as the final itself against Argentina. 

With Arsenal he was just as much of an assist machine as he was in Spain, and in his 254 games for the club produced 79 as well as adding 44, often classy, goals to win over fans. 

However, Ozil’s career soon started to decline following his success with the national team as well as his initial high impact at Arsenal where he won back-to-back FA Cups in his first two years.

His inconsistent form soon started to split the Gunners’ fanbase but Arsene Wenger stuck with the midfield star, handing him a new £350,000 a week contract in 2018 near the end of his tenure to keep the midfielder at the club for another three years. 

But Wenger departed the club in the summer and Ozil’s career never in north London never recovered under Unai Emery nor his successor Arteta.

The summer of 2018 proved to be a bleak one for the midfielder too as he was made a scapegoat for Germany’s shock group stage exit from the World Cup as holders.

In the run-up to the tournament he posed for photographs with controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the lead up to a Turkish election, with some questioning his loyalty to the German national team.

Germany’s early exit only piled more scrutiny on the German national with Turkish descent, as he defended the photographs as ‘respecting the highest office of my family’s country’.

More eyebrows were raised a year later when Ozil’s wedding to his wife Amine Gulse saw Erdogan feature as his best man.

It was in 2019 when Ozil would feature in another political row, this time dragging Arsenal into the mix.

Ozil spoke out strongly on Instagram against China’s treatment of the Uighur population in the north-western region of Xinjiang, where over a million people have reportedly been held in detention camps over recent years.

Ozil’s Instagram message read: ‘East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion.

They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.

‘But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?’

A statement released by the club on Chinese social media site Weibo said: ‘Regarding the comments made by Mesut Ozil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement.

‘The content published is Ozil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.’

As his role in the Arsenal team diminished the club soon tried to offload the midfielder, with his final appearance for the club coming before the Covid-19 pandemic in a 1-0 win over West Ham  in March 2020 – where he grabbed the assist.

The midfielder was then released on a free transfer to Fenerbahce 10 months later before his fitness issues eventually brought the end to his career.

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