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Mesut Özil: Germany's €50-million footballer

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Photo: DPA
12:40 CEST+02:00
His last-minute deal on transfer deadline day shocked British football and made him Germany’s most expensive footballer. It also made Mesut Özil our German of the Week.

The €50-million man, who is dating a German popstar, came from humble beginnings. He grew up in Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck in the industrial Ruhr region of west Germany, the second of four children.

His grandfather had moved the family to Gelsenkirchen from Turkey in the sixties when Özil’s father was still a boy.

Özil's football talents caught the eye of his local club Schalke 04 he and rose through their youth system before moving to Werder Bremen in 2008.

The 24-year-old made his debut for the national side in 2009 - and his decision to play for Germany rather than Turkey earned him some criticism. But Özil who is seen as a poster boy for German-Turkish integration, insists that football should reach beyond national boundaries.

He told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper in 2012: “I've spent more of my life in Spain than in Turkey. Does that make me a German-Turkish Spaniard or a Spanish German-Turk? Why do we always think about [national] boundaries? I want to be judged as a footballer and football is international. It’s got nothing to do with the roots of your family.”

Özil played for Germany's Under-17 side and moved his way up to the Under-21 side, which won the 2009 European Championship.

“I am third generation in Germany: my father grew up here. Turkey will always be a special country for me but I did not doubt my decision to play for Germany – ever," he told British football magazine Four-Four-Two before the 2010 World Cup.

He has gone on to score 14 goals in 47 games for his country and after an impressive performance in the 2010 World Cup, Real Madrid came knocking.

A left footed, player with flair, he has been compared to Messi and his move from Real Madrid to Arsenal on Monday will put even more pressure on him.

Arsenal are notoriously tight with their transfer budget and manager Arsene Wenger is enduring a trophy drought which Özil will be expected to end.

His former manager at Real Madrid Jose Mourinho described him as unique.

“There is no copy of him — not even a bad one,” he said, the British paper The Daily Mail reported. “He is the best No 10 in the world. Everyone loves him and sees a bit of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane in him.”

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He has been dating German popstar Mandy Capristo, 23, for a number of months, prompting the British press to immediately dub the couple “the German Posh and Becks”.

But in public Özil is generally serious and has kept his feet on the ground. His father still acts as his manager and Özil remains dedicated to Islam, reciting from the Koran before each match.

The Local/tsb

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