Mesut Özil announced on March 22nd his retirement from professional football. No doubt that he will leave a huge gap and great memories in all of our minds, as any lover of the beautiful sport admired his game of this German of Turkish origin.
Formed at the Schalke 04 Academy and establishing himself in the Bundesliga at Werder Bremen, a young left footer with astonishing class and technique made himself a name in German football right away. He dragged all the spotlights on him during the South Africa 2010 World Cup, as Joachim Löw was forced to call him up due to the injury of Michael Ballack and Mesut Özil made the most out of that opportunity. After a great tournament, despite his young age, where Özil gave a masterclass on all kinds of passes, movements and long shots, José Mourinho decided to sign him for Real Madrid.
His time at Real Madrid might probably be the most remembered of his career. He did not start playing much, but his show of talent made the Bernabéu Stadium to to ask for more minutes for the German. We all remember his play against Atlético de Madrid at the Bernabéu during his first season, where he megged Álvaro Domínguez and dribbled Tiago Mendes, an action for the museum that proved that he was just not an average player.
In his second year at Real Madrid, Mesut Özil would grab number ’10’ on his back, a season where all ‘Madridistas’ will remember his pass to Cristiano Ronaldo at the Camp Nou Stadium for the Portuguese to score a goal that gave ‘The Whites’ LaLiga title. Özil established himself at Mourinho’s Real Madrid, a team known for its fast counterattacks where he was the link between the midfield and the strikers, as he had unique qualities to play that role.
Let us remind you the main qualities of Mesut Özil. He not only had the classic esthetic of a left footer ‘playmaker’, but he was also great at driving the ball, had ice blood on his veins to make a last-minute pass that no one else saw and, overall, he always knew how to detect gaps in order to create danger scoring chances.
He was not a player with fast movements, but his accuracy at making decisions made him almost unstoppable. He is a different player. Guti himself admitted that he felt identified with Mesut Özil’s playing style and there were even some media that reported that Cristiano Ronaldo was mad when Özil left Real Madrid.
The truth is that he “only” won at Real Madrid one LaLiga title, one Spanish Super Cup and one Spanish Cup. However, even though it is not a huge title list for being at Real Madrid, we must take into account that Barcelona where back then one of the best teams in history. After three years at Real, Mesut Özil headed to London to play for Arsenal, a decision for which President Florentino Pérez was highly criticized by a crowd that really loved Mesut.
Mesut Özil played seven seasons and a half for Arsenal and he won four FA Cup and four Community Shield titles. That was a transition team that never fought for the main titles, but Özil really set up a great partnership with Alexis Sánchez. From his time at Arsenal, we all remember that sensational goal against Ludogorets. Then he left to Turkish signed for Fenerbache and then for Istanbul Basaksehir, the club where he announced his retirement.
However, his career at the German National Team was more successful than his club’s trajectory, as he was European U-21 2009 champion, bronze medal in South Africa 2010 World Cup and World Champion in Brazil 2014, the most important achievement of his career. He resigned from the national team back in 2018 after being criticized for a picture that he posted along with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, which made Özil to feel victim of racism and made that decision.
This is the farewell of an everlasting underrated player and one of the greatest assistants from recent history in this sport; he is the only player who has been top assistant at the Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga, Europa League, Champions League, Euro and the World Cup. Furthermore, he was also part of the UEFA’s XI in 2012 and 2013, which proves that he was one of the best players in the world. We must now thank him this quiet genius that made us all enjoy that much watching him play and that will stick in our minds forever.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Edit José Manuel Calviño.