Former Arsenal and Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from football at the age of 34.
The 92-time Germany international and 2014 World Cup winner had been playing for Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey, but he has now made the decision to terminate his contract and call time on his career after injuries limited him to just eight appearances this season.
He left Arsenal in 2021 having fallen out of favour with boss Mikel Arteta, joining Fenerbahce where he stayed for 18 months until last summer.
He wrote on social media: “Hello everyone, after thoughtful consideration, I’m announcing my immediate retirement from professional football.
“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity. 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.
“It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions. I want to thank my clubs – Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Fenerbahce, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus team-mates who have become friends.
“Special thanks must go to my family members and my closest friends. They have been a part of my journey from day one and have given me so much love and support, through the good times and the bad.”
Ozil’s time at Arsenal was blighted by off-field controversy. In December 2019, the club distanced itself from comments he had made criticising the Chinese government over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
He had a fractious relationship with Arteta following the manager’s appointment, playing just a handful of games before being frozen out of the side and excluded from the club’s 25-man Premier League squad for the start of the 2020/21 season.
The club had broken its transfer record to sign the Germany international from Real Madrid on deadline day in 2013, paying £43million to bolster the team’s nascent title challenge.
The club spent more days on top of the table in his debut season than any other side, eventually falling away and finishing fourth. Ozil scored seven goals and made 13 assists as Arsene Wenger’s side finished the season by winning the FA Cup.
His form became inconsistent for the rest of his time in north London, and the club’s fanbase became divided when he was awarded a new £350,000-a-week contract in 2018.
His time with the national team was similarly fractious, following up a starring role in Germany’s victorious World Cup in Brazil with a poor performance at the 2018 tournament and becoming a scapegoat as the team went out in the group stage.
He further alienated supporters by posing for photographs with Turkey’s president Recap Erdogan, prompting fans to question his loyalty.
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