One of the most creative and technically gifted players in modern football, Mesut Ozil was born on this day in 1988 in Gelsenkirchen, West Germany.
Joining Schalke’s youth setup in 2005, Ozil’s potential was soon recognized and the then-young central attacking midfielder was rightly touted as “the next big thing”. Ozil, on his part, declined a new contract extension from Schalke and eventually moved to Werder Bremen in 2008 for a reported fee of €5 million. And it were Werder Bremen where the German reached his true potential.
Making a total of 108 appearances in just three season with Bremen, Ozil earned himself a famed move to Real Madrid after a stellar performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Reports suggest that his form earned him a rave review from the then Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and the English international even asked his manager Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the German.
There were also claims that Barcelona had reached an agreement over his transfer to Camp Nou, but Bremen denied the claims and only some days later, announced a deal with Real Madrid over the German. Upon signing with Real, Ozil then said that he did not have any doubts in his mind when Real Madrid came calling. “When the offer came in to join Real Madrid, there is no decision to make. Let’s be honest – you don’t refuse this club. I was in no rush to leave Werder Bremen, but this is one club you say yes to. They are an institution, a club with a fantastic history, stadium and squad full of world-class players. The prospect of performing at the Bernabéu is so awesome you jump straight in.”
In his first season with the Galacticos, he bagged 25 assists in his kitty which was the highest for any player in any major European competition that season. Two seasons on, he made 29 assists and broke his own record by naming 26 assists in the league. However, with Luka Modric arriving at the Bernabeu, Ozil reportedly deemed unhappy as he had to share his minutes with the Croatian. Although Ozil refused to these claims, Arsenal struck a deal with Real Madrid in 2013 which saw the German travelling to London for a then club record fee of £42.4m.
Ozil is enduring something what can be described as a mixed tenure with Arsenal so far. In his first season with the Gunners, he made 40 appearances in all competition, scoring 7 goals and an impressive 13 assists. The 2015-16 season was Ozil’s most productive season personally. Making a total of 45 appearances across all competition, Ozil scored 8 goals and marked a massive 20 assists.
Ozil has time and again been described as a “technically perfect” player and certainly for all right reasons. Even Xabi Alonso described Ozil as “the kind of player you don’t find these days.” On his day, the German can split your defence apart, but the German sometimes lacks consistency. He is majorly criticized for going missing in the big games and also for the lack of his physical attribute and his low defensive work-rate off the ball.
Ozil carried a lot of nicknames with him and to name some, he was outlined as “German Messi” and “German Zidane.” While his time at Real, the German was called as “Nemo,” with reference to the clownfish Nemo from the Pixar movie Finding Nemo.