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Mesut Ozil quit the German national team this summer following their hugely disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia.
The 29-year-old playmaker cited ‘racism and disrespect’ as his reasons for stepping away from international football.
“Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim? I think here lays an important issue,” said Ozil in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” he said.
“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t,” he said. “I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
The Arsenal midfielder attacked German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel after he blamed Ozil for Germany’s poor performance in Russia.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” added Ozil.
MERTESACKER ON OZIL
Former German international Per Mertesacker has played alongside Ozil countless times for club and country.
The 33-year-old defender, capped 104 times by his country, took the job as Arsenal’s academy manager after retiring from football at the end of last season.
And Mertesacker has finally given his opinion on Ozil’s retirement, admitting that he was “surprised” by his statement.
“I have never experienced racism or discrimination in the national team,” Mertesacker told Sport Bild, as per Goal’s Ronan Murphy.
“Mesut’s accusation therefore surprised me.”
“Mesut and I have played together for years in the national team, Werder Bremen, and Arsenal.
“We had a special relationship and, as different as we are, were always important to each other. What happened now makes me sad.”
Mertesacker’s comments did not go down particularly well on social media.
Ozil’s former Germany teammates Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller have all previously dismissed his racism claims.
And manager Joachim Low suggested there was no way back into the national team for Ozil, despite him leaving the door open for a return.
“In my view, Mesut Ozil has clearly declared his retirement and closed the door by himself with that, so a comeback is not a topic,” Low told Sport Bild, as per Goal.
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