Article about how awesome Mesut Ozil really is.
Mesut Özil – Where it all began
During the last season and half Mesut Özil has found his home at the Bernabéu. His incredible passes and excellent vision of the game combined with humble nature have made him one of the fan favourites. However, before the 2010 World Cup and Özil’s 2010-11 season at Real Madrid, many fans had never even heard of this young star from Germany. Yet in Werder Bremen Mesut Özil had shone for a long time before coming to Madrid.
This is a rare success story of a boy who grew up in a rundown and forgotten part of the country and who climbed his way to the hearts of the entire German nation.
In Werder Bremen Özil grew into the talented player that charmed the royal audience during his very first game at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. But this story doesn’t begin in Bremen. It begins in Gelsenkirchen where a grandson of Turkish migrant labourers decided to imitate his brother and start playing football.
Little did anyone know that one day the grandson of a mine worker would represent a new Germany. ’The mines have closed down now, but the tower still looms over Bismark; a largely Turkish neighbourhood, with a small, rough gravel football pitch enclosed by hostile wire fences, where the ball never went out and games never ended. A pitch they called the Affenkäfig: “the monkey cage.”’
In “monkey-cage”, or “Mesut Özil’s monkey-cage”, as it is called now in Gelsenkirchen, Mesut Özil started to play football at a very young age. He saw his older brother Mutlu on the field and decided that he also wanted to try the beautiful game. And what a game he made… Soon those around Özil saw that there was something special in the way how this kid touched the ball.
Özil’s monkey cage
In his play Özil combined elegance and intelligence with the unpredictability of a street footballer. Özil has later described his own play style with a following statement: “My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part.”
Özil began his youth career playing for various clubs in Gelsenkirchen and made a move forward when he played five years for Rot-Weiss Essen. In 2005, he moved to the youth department of the historical German football club Schalke 04.
He made his debut in the first team of Schalke at the age of seventeen. A rumour claimes that Jose Mourinho first saw Özil when he watched (after getting fired) his old club Chelsea play against Schalke in the Champions League. Mesut Özil was playing in that game. He was seventeen years old but already produced fine touches and showed great intelligence on the field. According to the story, Jose Mourinho took his infamous black book and made a note: “Buy this kid as soon as possible”.
Schalke knew they had a diamond in the rough in their hands and the club wanted Özil to sign a contract extension. Özil asked for a raise but got refused. He then made the suprisingly bold move to refuse signing the contract. Özil had been spending time on the bench and he and his father knew he could do more. His father Mustafa stated that his son would be playing for Real Madrid “within three years”. The club laughed and didn’t agree to their terms. Özil made it clear that he would leave, but the club only retaliated by putting a huge price on him.
Schalke lost their betting game and Özil became the most expensive 18 year-old player in German history to that point when Werder Bremen bought him for around 4.5 million Euros. In Werder Bremen the shy boy started to shine under the guidance of playful playmaker Diego Ribas and golden hearted forward Claudio Pizarro.
Years later, in 2010, the time was finally right. Mesut Özil had grown into a true playmaker in Bremen. In 2009 he had helped Werder Bremen to win the 2009 DFB-Pokal with the winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Bayer Leverkusen. In 2009 he was also the star of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship where Germany won the gold after Özil’s pure dominance in the tournament.
In 2010 he was part of a young but very talented team that won bronze at 2010 World Cup in South Africa. During Germany vs Ghana game it was Özil’s rocket (the only goal of the game) that fired die Mannschaft among the last 16 teams in the tournament.
In South Africa Özil made the final breaktrough that started the avalanche of clubs getting interested in his services. Jose Mourinho was now the head coach of Real Madrid footbal club and he knew it was time to bring Özil to the Bernabéu.
In Madrid, with the guidance of Jose Mourinho and supported by the biggest football stars on the planet, Özil’s growth started to escalate and he became a key member of the team.
Director general Jorge Valdano spoke after Özil had masterminded Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Racing Santander (6th of March 2011): “I think Özil is going to be Real Madrid standard-bearer for the next decade. He is the type of player that Madrid fans love: for his personality, the way he plays and for his teamwork. He even makes our rivals enjoy.”
Also Cristiano Ronaldo has praised his young teammate: “Özil has made me a better player. Özil is fantastic. He can read the game and knows when he needs to play the pass, when he should take a dribble - that’s simply class. We have a really good connection and this is still getting better. I love to play with him, he is fantastic.”
Özil and Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating Özil’s first goal against FC Barcelona. photo
And the rest is history. Or as some would say, the beginning of a legend.
The story comes a full circle. We return to where we began, in Gelsenkirchen. On September 12, 2011 Mesut Özil returned to his childhood hometown to play against Austria in UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers. Germany won that game 6-2. Özil was the creative force of midfield and attack. He scored two goals and made an assits. Some might even claim that he scored his very first hat-trick that night.
The game was played at Veltins-Arena, the homeground of Schalke 04 and the old homefield of Mesut Özil. During that night he made a statement to all Schalkers and Germany national team fans: He had arrived and he was on his way to possibly become something legendary. The boy who used to play in the monkey-cage and who had not been able to convince his childhood club had made it without them. He was a shining star and on that night his gala-performance made the entire Veltins-Arena cheer.
Of Bambi Awards, Photographs And Whistling Concerts: The Political Evolution of Mesut Özil. Part II
To mark Mesut’s return to Germany to play Italy in Dortmund on Wednesday, we continue our exploration of his role as a political figure in the German Integration debate.
Of Clubs, Girlfriends, Tabloids & Goals - The Political Evolution of Mesut Özil
Mesut is heading back to Germany to play against Italy in Dortmund on Wednesday. To mark the occasion, I would like to bring you a brief history, in two parts, of the political evolution of Mesut Özil.
Sugar and spice and everything nice (rose-water, cardamom, and gum-Arabic): it all goes into making Turkish Delight.
Interview after Germany - Austria game 2.9.2011.
Pronouncing Özil’s name: The German ö vowel sounds like the English i in bird and the u in burn. In this video, the German interviewer begins by saying “So, Mesut Özil”