Germany’s World Cup-winning midfielder Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from football at the age of 34 on Wednesday (Mar 22).
The former Real Madrid and Arsenal player was a key member of Germany’s World Cup-winning side in Brazil in 2014.
He retired from the squad in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of migrants and after backlash over a photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish ancestry.
“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity,” Ozil, who most recently played for Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, said in a statement on Instagram.
“But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it’s become more and more clear that it’s time to leave the big stage of football.”
Ozil made 645 appearances for club and country, in which he scored 114 goals and had 222 assists.
He began his senior career with Schalke 04 in Germany, before moving to Werder Bremen. His performances earned him a call-up to Germany’s squad for the 2010 World Cup, where he helped his country reach the semi-finals.
He signed for Real Madrid a month after the World Cup and spent three years in Spain, winning one La Liga title and the Spanish Super Cup. Ozil made 105 La Liga appearances for Real, scoring 19 goals.
He joined Arsenal in 2013, helping them win the first of four FA Cup titles the following year. He scored 33 Premier League goals and made 59 assists in his time in north London.
He also played a starring role for Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, starting all seven of their games as they became the first European team to win the tournament on South American soil.
Ozil joined Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2021 after Arsenal terminated his contract and then moved to Istanbul Basaksehir less than a year later.
“It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions,” he added.
“I want to thank my clubs – Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal FC, Fenerbahce, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus teammates who have become friends.
“Now I’m looking forward to everything that is in front of me with my beautiful wife, Amine, and my two beautiful daughters, Eda and Ela.”