Former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil flatly ruled out a comeback for Germany on Wednesday as he signed a three-and-a-half contract with his favourite Turkish side Fenerbahce.
“I wish the German national team success, but I will never play for them again,” the 32-year-old attacking midfielder told reporters in fluent Turkish at his official unveiling in Istanbul.
Ozil was one of the stars of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning side and won three FA Cups for Arsenal.
But he was heavily criticised in Germany when he posed for a photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of the 2018 World Cup.
Erdogan was also the best man at the player’s wedding in Turkey.
Ozil, who has Turkish roots, complained of being subjected to “racist” attacks and quit the national team in anger following Germany’s first-round exit from the tournament.
He barely appeared for Arsenal — where he was the highest-paid player on a reported £350,000 ($480,000) a week — after slamming China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang in 2019.
Arsenal initially distanced itself from Ozil’s remarks.
Ozil will wear the number 67 jersey for Fenerbahce — the first two digits of the postal code of his family’s native Zonguldak province in Turkey.
Fenerbahce president Ali Koc said Ozil should be ready in time for the club’s big Istanbul derby against eternal rivals Galatasaray on February 6.
Ozil will officially earn three million euros a season — a fraction of the salary he drew at Arsenal and before that Real Madrid.
Fenerbahce and Turkey’s other big clubs have been crippled by debt after taking on big contracts that became unsustainable because of the country’s economic problems.
The club launch a donation campaign among its supporters this week to help pay Ozil’s wages. – AFP.