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Mesut Ozil Retires: The highs and lows of a misunderstood genius in football.

34-year-old Mesut Ozil has decided to hang up his boots, with the German announcing his retirement on social media yesterday.

Whether you love him or loathe him, Mesut Ozil has had some truly iconic years on the pitch. The former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder scored 114 goals and registered 222 assists whilst lifting the World Cup, the La Liga title, a Copa del Rey and four FA Cups. His career was marred by huge controversy though, especially for a ‘shy’ player.

Ozil was a misunderstood genius and a walking contradiction:

- He was a new, modern, and slick midfielder who got out-grown tactically by the game and the fall of the ‘10’ role.

- He was a quick-minded midfielder who got caught out by the pace of games.

- He was a selfless player who got accused of not being good for the team.

- He was the assist king but a ‘you can’t just look at his stats’ kind of player.

This led to him having some huge fans but also huge critics. This article will sum up the playmakers career full of highs and lows, remind you of memories you’ve forgotten and show the world’s reception to Ozil’s retirement - strap in…

Ozil broke out at Schalke in 2006 and moved on to Werder Bremen where he started showing his majestic technically ability. He charted 23 assists in his first season and netted 5 times. In his second season, he assisted his teammates on 29 occasions and scored 10 himself.

Ozil could’ve gone under the radar in the early stages of his career, but he set the 2010 World Cup in South Africa alight, and he was the man-of-the-moment for Germany.

He assisted as Germany thrashed England 4-1, knocked out Argentina and hit Australia for four in the group stages. He also knocked Ghana out with an outstanding solo strike from outside the area.

He then moved to Real Madrid, where he topped La Liga’s assist charts for three years on the bounce. He won silverware at the Spanish Giants and became Ronaldo’s favourite playmaker. Cristiano Ronaldo stated: "He was the best player who knew my moves in front of goal, I'm angry (at the club) about him leaving."

Ozil was getting Ballon d’Or shortlisted by this stage in his career and was starting to become a that slick, modern and smooth midfielder that defined football in the 2010’s.

Not many could create chances or find space between the lines like he did. He rarely used physical attributes, instead choosing to eternally adjust his positioning to toy with defenders.

If he was marked by a centre back, he would drop deep. If he was marked by a midfielder, he would push forward. He was a master of finding space and finding more space for his teammates once he had the ball at his feet, dragging opponents all over the place.

He moved to Arsenal in 2013, just missing Madrid’s run of Champions League wins and unravelling a soap opera to forget at the Gunners. His 7-year Arsenal career will never be forgotten: it had everything.

His Arsenal career got off to a great start, signing for a club record fee and continuing to do what he has done best for the past five years – create chances. He also lifted the World Cup in 2014 as Germany beat Argentina in the final.

He had some fantastic partnerships with Alexis Sanchez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and was a major part in some of the Premier League’s most beautiful goals, notably against Leicester City.

He also had some failed partners. Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil never really worked tactically. Giroud would like to have a midfielder run in behind him, which Ozil didn’t do, and Ozil wanted a striker to run in behind, which Giroud didn’t do.

Then the fans decided to turn on Ozil, as there was a lack of tracking back and pressing, wavering of defensive duties, physical weaknesses, body language debates, falling out with managers, his huge wages, and the shocking freezing out of Ozil by Mikel Arteta.

The media ran away with headlines about Ozil, tarnishing his legacy to a degree at Arsenal with the majority of the fanbase turning their backs on him. The footballer had found himself a new role as a news item, and it was a sad ending for a shy man at the Gunners.

On his day, he was as good as anybody, but that is what made Ozil so frustrating. He gave Arsenal fans samples of what he could’ve been and flashed his brilliance in glimpses. But it just wasn’t worth the tedious saga.

The debate over whether Ozil’s genius accounted for his laziness could still be going on now, and it’s fair to say there was relief when he left Arsenal from both parties. He was talented, but it wasn’t illustrated often enough.

Mesut Ozil experienced a fall from grace, and he never really hit the heights expected of him during his time at Fenerbache and Basaksehir. He was one of the best in the world for a period of his career, being named in the UEFA Team of the Year, but it didn’t always work out.

As previously mentioned, Mesut Ozil was a misunderstood genius and a walking contradiction – which makes his career so interesting. He was a joy to watch and a breath of fresh air, but a midfielder who got out-grown tactically by the game with the fall of the number 10.


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