Former Germany 2014 World Cup winning midfielder Mesut Ozil is retiring at the age of 34.

Former Germany 2014 World Cup winning midfielder Mesut Ozil is retiring at the age of 34.

ISTANBUL – Former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, who won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, retired from football at the age of 34 on Wednesday.

Ozil said injuries played a role in his decision.

“I have had the privilege of being a professional footballer for almost 17 years now and I am incredibly grateful for that opportunity,” Ozil wrote on social media. “But in recent weeks and months, with some injuries, it has become increasingly clear that it is time to step away from football’s big stage.”

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

Ozil won the Spanish league title with Real Madrid in 2012 and the FA Cup four times with Arsenal. His international career came to an abrupt end in 2018 when he was withdrawn from the German squad citing “racism and disrespect”.

It comes amid criticism of his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the 2018 World Cup, anti-Turkish comments from German politicians and abuse from some fans towards Özil, who has Turkish heritage.

Germany coach Hansi Flick, who was with the squad as Joachim Löw’s assistant at the 2014 World Cup, paid tribute to Ozil as “one of the best footballers in the world” at his peak.

“I really enjoyed working with him, he had extraordinary skills, his technique and game vision were excellent,” Flick said in a statement. “All of us with the national team wish him and his family the best for the rest of his career.”

Ozil began his career in Germany with hometown club Schalke before earning a place in the German national team at Werder Bremen. Moved to Madrid after outstanding performance for Germany at the 2010 World Cup. He then had an eight-year relationship with Arsenal.

“Real Madrid CF wants to show its appreciation, admiration and affection for one of our great players. Congratulations, dear Mesut, to you and your family,” the Spanish club said on Twitter.

Arsenal posted: “Thanks for the memories – happy retirement, Mesut.”

Özil moved to Turkish club Fenerbahce in 2021 after his relationship with Arsenal fell apart. After falling out with then-manager Unai Emery and later his successor Mikel Arteta, Özil was left out of the Arsenal squad before his departure. The club distanced themselves from Ozil over his support for Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, which led to an Arsenal game being pulled from Chinese television.

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