Midfielder Özil, world champion for Germany in 2014, says goodbye to football: ‘Time to leave the big stages’
In a career with ups and downs, Özil made his name in football history, won several titles and provided more than 200 assists.
Start of career in Germany
Born in Gelsenkirchen, he started his career with Schalke 04, the city team. However, he played little and was sold to Werder Bremen for €4.3 million in 2008.
He had fantastic seasons at the Bremen club, leading the team to the 2008-09 UEFA Cup (current Europa League) final, in which they were defeated by Shakhtar Donetsk.
In his second full season, he helped the club finish third in the Bundesliga, scoring 9 goals and 13 assists. In 2009 Özil was responsible for the highest average assists in the 21st century, giving 30 goal passes in 48 games. In total he had 108 appearances, 16 goals and 54 assists for Werder Bremen.
The good performances of the talented midfielder took him to the national team, and under the command of Joachim Löw he was an absolute starter in the 2010 World Cup, when the Germans had a great campaign, stopping in the semifinal, against champion Spain.
Trajectory in Real Madrid
After a glittering World Cup in 2010, Özil joined Real Madrid for €15m and quickly became an important part of Jose Mourinho’s side. He won a La Liga title and a Copa del Rey, played 159 matches for the Meringues, scored 27 goals and provided 81 assists in three seasons.
At Arsenal, a path of ups and downs
In 2013, Arsenal confirmed the signing of Özil, the biggest purchase in the club’s history at the time, €47 million. Despite expectations, the beginning of the midfielder was not encouraging for the Gunners. Coach Arsène Wenger justified the fluctuations in performance by claiming that Özil joined the team too late without any preparation.
In 2014, the midfielder was a starter throughout Germany’s World Cup campaign, being one of the main players who won the fourth championship.
On returning to the Gunners, he was injured and was out for 4 months. It was in the 2015-16 season that he reached great form, distributing 19 assists in the Premier League, behind only the record holders, Thierry Henry (2002/23 for Arsenal) and Kevin De Bruyne (2019/20 for Manchester City), both with 20 assists in the same season. Anyway, the midfielder managed to establish himself in the team, corresponding to Wenger’s expectations, and becoming one of the main players of the team.
In the following season, he was a key player in winning the Super Cup and the FA Cup, both against Chelsea. That same season, Özil scored an anthological goal that deserved a Puskas award. Against Ludogorets in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (return game), after receiving a through ball, Özil touches it over the goalkeeper, faked a kick leaving 2 defenders on the ground and stuffed the ball into the back of the net.
Although the start was promising, with the end of Arsène Wenger’s time at the club, the player lost more and more space and ended up not even being signed up by the club for the 2020/21 season. Finally, in January 2021, Özil was released, free of charge, to Fenerbahçe.
End of career in Turkey
The midfielder of turkish origin fulfilled his childhood dream and in 2021 he played for Fenerbahçe, his favorite team, and did not get his impressive numbers as before. In 2022, he said goodbye to the club and left for Basaksehir, where he didn’t have much shine and entered the field only seven times.
The Magician of Öz, was one of the great midfielders of his generation, specialist in assists, is the fourth player with the most goal passes in the 21st century, in addition to having the best average in a year in that regard, for Werder Bremen.
Özil ends his career with 652 games, 137 goals and 259 assists, counting clubs and the national team.
Written by Henry Miller.