Yesterday Mesut Özil announced his retirement from the German national team. He cited feeling scapegoated by the German media for the team’s poor performance at the World Cup. He was also heavily criticized for taking a photo with Turkish president Recep Erdoğan,
Özil explained that the photo had nothing to do with politics, but with his family’s heritage. The midfielder’s grandparents were born in Turkey, and while Özil was born in Germany and is a German citizen, he is proud of his ancestor’s Turkish roots.
The well written statement from Özil explained how he personally felt insulted from the unfair backlash that he received.
I expected there to be continued interest in this story and hoped that it would raise a dialogue within Germany about cultural differences among its citizens. Instead, this morning it’s been reported that Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness felt the need to lash out at Özil.
The 66-year-old former player questioned Özil’s commitment to the national team and accused him of lacking professionalism. His exact statement to Germany’s Sport Bild was scathing:
I am glad that this scare is now over. He had been playing s--- for years. He last won a tackle before the 2014 World Cup. And now he and his s----- performance hide beyond this picture. Whenever (Bayern) played against Arsenal, we played over him because we knew that was their weak point.
Hoeness then insulted Özil’s fans, “His 35 million follower boys - that don’t exist in the real world - are convinced he has played sublimely when he completes a cross pass.”
“Wow” is my reaction. Talk about a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Özil was the standout player for Germany just four years ago, when the national side won the World Cup. In his 92 matches for Germany he provided 40 assists and 23 goals.
Özil has yet to respond to Hoeness, and is currently in Singapore with Arsenal. Stay tuned as it appears that this story is far from over.