“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”, Ozil says as he quits playing for Germany
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has disclosed that he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots” had he not posed for photographs with the Turkish president, Erdogan.
The Arsenal midfielder and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan – both Germany internationals of Turkish descent – were criticised by the German Football Association for meeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May.”I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” he said on Twitter.
“It was about me representing the highest office of my family’s country.
“During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values I think about to this day.”
In a second statement released by Ozil, he criticised German media for blaming the country’s World Cup failure on the photographs and his dual heritage.
He added: “They didn’t criticise my performances, they didn’t criticise the team’s performances, they just criticised my Turkish ancestry and respect for my upbringing.
“This crosses a personal line that shouldn’t be crossed, as newspapers try to turn the nation of Germany against me.”
The players met with Turkish President at an event in London where Ozil says they talked about football. Photographs were released by Turkey’s governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country, which Erdogan won outright.
Criticisms also came from German politicians who criticised Ozil and Gundogan, questioning their loyalty to German democratic values. Germany has previously criticised the Turkish leader’s crackdown on political dissent following a failed coup.
“For me, it didn’t matter who was president, it mattered that it was the president,” Ozil added.
“Whether it had been the Turkish or German president, my actions would have been no different.”