Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football.
The Arsenal midfielder, 29, was made the ‘scapegoat’ for Germany’s World Cup disaster this summer in Russia, as the 2014 winners of the tournament failed to make it out of their group following two defeats and a win.
Ozil was criticised for his performance in Germany’s opening defeat by Mexico, before being dropped for the victory over Sweden. He was subsequently returned to the starting XI for the must-win clash with South Korea, but was again on the losing side.
Ozil posted three open letters to social media on Sunday, concluding with his resignation from international football in which he hit out at the ‘racism and disrespect’ he has been subject to.
He wrote: “It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.
“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t.
This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.
“But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda. then enough is enough.
“That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted.”
Ozil’s first post of the day defended his decision to pose for a picture alongside Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan back in May – an image that landed him in hot water at the time.
While the second letter was directed at the German media, and hit out at them for blaming the picture and his dual-heritage for the nation’s poor World Cup performance.
Fans of the midfielder took to social media earlier in the day to respond to Ozil’s first two letters, with many calling on him to quit and focus all his attentions on Arsenal.
One Twitter user wrote: “Mesut Ozil should retire from international duty. He is just being made a scapegoat for Germany’s uninspiring World Cup because of his pictures with Erdogan.”
Another added: “Mesut Ozil should retire from the Germany team. They are ungrateful, they don’t deserve you.”
While a third said: “I think Ozil is going to retire from international football I hope he does.” And a fourth concluded: “Mesut Ozil should just retire from international football. He’s already won the World Cup.
Following Germany’s World Cup exit, at the height of Ozil’s criticism, his father Mustafa also leaped to his defence and suggested he too should quit.