Former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from professional football at age 34.
Ozil, who was part of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad in 2014, has spent the past three seasons in the Turkish Super Lig and retires after making four league appearances for Basaksehir, who he joined as a free agent last year.
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He retired from international duty in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of migrants and after backlash over a photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish ancestry.
The midfielder made 645 career appearances for club and country, including 254 for Arsenal across a seven-year stint. He featured in the club’s FA Cup finals in 2014, 2015 and 2017, helping his side to victory in all three Wembley matches.
“After thoughtful consideration, I’m announcing my immediate retirement from professional football,” Ozil wrote in an announcement posted to Twitter.
“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity. 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.
“It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions. I want to thank my clubs – Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal FC, Fenerbahçe, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus teammates who have become friends.
“Special thanks must go to my family members and my closest friends. They have been a part of my journey from day one and have given me so much love and support, through the good times and the bad.”
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.