Mesut Özil's brother said yesterday that the world-class midfielder's decision to retire from the German national team, after a series of racist attacks from German officials, was not easy.
"We made this decision together. He thought about it a lot," Mutlu Özil told Doğan News Agency (DHA), adding that his brother would now concentrate on his club Arsenal.
In his nine-year career with the German national team, Özil earned 92 caps and won the World Cup in 2014.
He faced a lot of criticism and racist attacks after the team was eliminated in the first round of the 2018 World Cup held in Russia. Right before the World Cup, Özil came under fire in Germany for meeting and taking a picture with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Some criticism after the meeting, however, turned into racial abuse.
Meanwhile, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has backed Özil and criticized Foreign Minister Heiko Maas' comments on the issue.
Maas on Tuesday said, "I do not believe that the case of a multi-millionaire living and working in England provides information about integration in Germany."Schröder said that Maas's statement was "simply unbearable."
"Maas's dull comments on Özil also have nothing at all to do with social democratic ideas of integration. In this way, he doubts that Özil really belongs here. With his statements he plays into the hands of those who rejected Mesut Özil because of the Turkish origin of his family," Schröder told the German media.
The German midfielder has also been backed by his teammates and the head coach at Arsenal as he joined the club's pre-season tour of Singapore.
He received the backing of head coach Unai Emery, the clubs newly appointed head coach. Emery said that he respects Özil's personal decision.
"I am very happy with him; every player is working together, and Mesut has the respect of every player here. I prefer to give him the normality in the team and for him to feel good with us," he said in comments on the club's website.
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech said that the players support their teammate. "I have to say Mesut has come back and is really happy to be here," the goalkeeper told reporters.
"Mesut is an important player for us, we want him to perform; we want him to feel comfortable," the veteran Czech goalkeeper said.