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    Mesut Ozil, the 2014 World Cup winner, has retired: Playmaker with one-of-a-kind abilities and a magical left foot

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    Germany’s Mesut Ozil, who won the 2014 FIFA World Cup, was a playmaker having brilliant skills in the offense as well as a magic left foot.

    After an illustrious club and national team career, Ozil retired from football at the age of 34 on Wednesday.

    During his football career, he played for famed clubs such as Real Madrid and Arsenal and won several trophies.

    Near the end of his career, he played for Türkiye’s Fenerbahce and Medipol Basaksehir.

    Regarded as one of the best playmakers, Ozil was born to a Turkish immigrant family on Oct. 15, 1988, in Germany’s Gelsenkirchen.

    Gelsenkirchen is the hometown of Schalke 04 football club, where Ozil played before his move to another German club Werder Bremen.
    After a five-year stint for Rot-Weiss Essen at the youth level, he joined Schalke in 2005.

    Ozil played for both Schalke’s youth and senior teams before joining Werder Bremen in January 2008.

    In his new club, he started to gain attention with his playmaking abilities and his value started to increase.

    Ozil chose to play for the German national team in 2009, one of the turning points in his career. He made his Germany debut in 2009, a friendly against Norway.

    As an attacking midfielder, Ozil played against Türkiye in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualification round match held in 2010.

    He preferred not to have a goal celebration after scoring once in the game, which Germany won 3-0.

     

    Tenure with Real Madrid

    After a good display in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he bagged a bronze medal, Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid signed him.

    He was expected to back up ex-Brazilian star Kaka, one of Ozil’s idols.

    Kaka, who is considered one of the more talented players of his generation, was troubled by injuries during his time at Real Madrid, which meant Ozil was manned as the playmaker of the Whites.

    Ozil finished the 2010-11 season with 25 assists, the highest for any player in any major European competition that season.

    The next season, Jose Mourinho-helmed Real Madrid grabbed a historic Spanish La Liga championship with 100 points, breaking both point and goal records of the league, while Ozil earned a nomination for UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.

    He tallied 27 goals and 81 assists in 159 games for Real Madrid.

     

    New challenge in his life

    After spending three years in Madrid, Ozil left the Spanish giants for Arsenal in 2013 for €47 million ($62.4 million).

    This move made him the most expensive German football player at that time.

    Ozil made a decent display with the Gunners and he bagged a total of four English FA Cups with Arsenal in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2020.

    In the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, Ozil’s time with the team was limited by the team management until he was left out of Arsenal’s 25-man Premier League squad in 2020.

    Ozil, who netted 44 goals and made 79 assists in 254 appearances for the Gunners, decided to move on and join his favorite Turkish club Fenerbahce in January 2021.

    He was one of the biggest signings of Fenerbahce.

    After scoring nine goals and making three assists for the Yellow Canaries, he joined another Turkish side Medipol Basaksehir in 2022, where he played in only seven matches until his retirement on Wednesday.

     

    2014 World Cup triumph

    Ozil was one of the integral parts of the German team with whom he bagged a bronze medal in South Africa in 2010 and a World Cup in 2014 held in Brazil.

    South Africa 2010 was his first World Cup finals with Germany.

    With his major contributions, Germany hit the top in 2014 and secured the World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

    Ozil scored 23 goals in 92 appearances for Germany.

    His decision to choose to play for the German national team and his decision to leave the team drew criticism.

    Turkish fans accused him of “betraying” his homeland when he preferred Germany, while German fans and the press accused him of “not being worthy of wearing a national team jersey” when he did not celebrate his goal against Türkiye.

    Ozil came under fire in Germany when he posted a photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the 2018 World Cup. German media outlets criticized Ozil and questioned his loyalty to Germany.

    Erdogan was in London in May 2018 for a state visit to the UK
    The criticism worsened after Germany’s debacle in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    Ozil quit the German team the same year, citing “racism and disrespect.”

    – Advanced playmaker with ‘magic’ left foot

    Ozil was an advanced playmaker and a virtuoso who greatly impacted the teams he played for.

    His creativity in the offense, special skills such as passing and assist, and a magic left foot made him one of the brilliant players of the game.

    His vision, ball control, movement (both on and off the ball) and sense were other trademark qualities of his.

    Jose Mourinho, one of Ozil’s coaches who coached him at Real Madrid, once said: “Ozil is unique. There is no copy of him – not even a bad copy.”

    “His vision is probably the best I have ever seen… He is a dream for strikers,” Ozil’s former teammate Phillip Lahm, an ex-Germany full-back, said about him.

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