Merkel ‘respects’ Ozil’s decision to retire from German football team

Dean Simpson
July 24, 2018

The midfielder brought his worldwide career to an abrupt over the weekend, citing what he called "racism and disrespect" for his Turkish roots and claiming he had been made a scapegoat for the team's World Cup failures after a controversial meeting with Turkish leader Erdogan in May.

Turkish lawmaker and former footballer Alpay Ozalan supported the stance Germany's Mesut Ozil took against racism.

And Boateng, who played alongside Ozil in the U21 Germany national team before opting for the Black Stars, expressed his support for the 2014 World Cup victor.

Ozil, a 2014 World Cup victor was born in Gelsenkirchen but has strong Turkish roots.

Mesut Ozil's shock departure from the German national team amid a torrid reaction to his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has prompted a divide in reaction from sports stars and commentators.

"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose", Ozil wrote in his lengthy farewell statement.

Ozalan, born in 1972, has represented Turkey 87 times in the national team, making him the country's sixth-most capped player of all time.

"The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my global debut in 2009 has been forgotten".

Ozil, 29, won the World Cup with Germany four years ago, but was also part of Joachim Low's squad which failed to progress from the group stages of the 2018 tournament in Russian Federation.

He pointed out that Erdogan also met the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May while in England and said he would have been "disrespecting his ancestors' roots" had he not posed for photographs with the Turkish president.

In Ozil's ancestral home town of Devrek in the Zonguldak region on the Turkish Black Sea coast, local authorities have changed a giant picture on "Mesut Ozil Avenue" to show the photograph with Erdogan rather than Ozil in his German kit.

"I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish", said Ozil.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ozalan from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said: "I congratulate Mesut Ozil".

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