Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has not been without his critics during his time in the Premier League.
A club-record signing from Real Madrid, Ozil was slow to settle at the Emirates Stadium and has had his fair share of negative headlines for a lack of effort, physicality and influence in the big games.
Now, however, he’s been attacked for slightly more bizarre reasons by a far-right German political party.
Alternative fur Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) were not happy about the player’s trip to Mecca, believing Ozil has sent out an ‘anti-patriotic’ message, according to the London Evening Standard.
This also follows claims that the 27-year-old has at times chosen not to sing along to Germany’s national anthem before games.
The head of the party, Andrea Kersten said: ‘When Ozil regularly doesn’t sing along to the national anthem, we are supposed to treat it as his own private matter.
‘But when he goes on pilgrimage to Mecca Der Tagesspiegel [a German daily newspaper] tells people it is “a sign for more understanding and integration”.’
Ozil is a practising Muslim of Turkish origins, with Germany manager Joachim Low calling for respect to his and other players’ heritages.
‘Our boys identify totally with the national team and Germany, but one also has to consider their heritage,’ Low said.
Ozil enjoyed a superb season with Arsenal in 2015/16, and will now hope to build on Germany’s 2014 World Cup win with a strong showing at this summer’s European Championships.
What’s the Bottomline?
Who is Mesut Ozil?
Mesut Özil (German pronunciation: [ˈmeːzut ˈøːzil], Turkish: [meˈsut ˈøzil]; born 15 October 1988) is a German footballer who plays for English club Arsenal and the German national team. Özil has been a youth national team member since 2006, and a member of the German national team since 2009. He gained international attention during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was nominated for the Golden Ball Award, which is awarded to the tournament’s best player. Özil started his senior career at hometown club Schalke in the Bundesliga in 2006, transferred to Werder Bremen in 2008 and was signed by Real Madrid in August 2010 following his break-out performance at the FIFA World Cup with Germany. On transfer deadline day of summer 2013, he moved to Arsenal for a club-record fee of £42.5 million. The transfer makes him the most expensive German football player of all time.
Özil is acclaimed for his finesse and improvisation as an attacking midfielder. His style and ability for providing assists for his team-mates have been compared by former manager José Mourinho to that of Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane. In 2010–11, Özil ranked first in assists in major European and domestic competitions with 25. In 2011–12, he ranked first in assists in La Liga with 17. Özil was the joint-highest assist provider at both the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, registering three at each tournament.