Wed | May 31, 2023

Former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil retires at 34

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2023 | 12:10 PM
Arsenal's Mesut Özil, shoots on goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Arsenal in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Former Germany midfielder Mesut Özil, who won the World Cup in 2014, retired from football Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the age of 34. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil, who won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, retired from football Wednesday at the age of 34.

Özil said injuries played a role in his decision.

“I've had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity,” Özil wrote on social media.

“But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it's become more and more clear that it's time to leave the big stage of football.”

His immediate retirement brings an early end to his season with Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir, where he made only seven appearances for the team.

Özil won the Spanish league title with Real Madrid in 2012 and the FA Cup four times with Arsenal.

His international career ended abruptly in 2018 when he quit the Germany squad citing “racism and disrespect.”

That followed anti-Turkish comments from German politicians and abuse from some fans toward Özil, who has Turkish heritage, amid criticism of his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup.

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