Mesut Ozil has spoken about the importance of cultural respect in football and how it’s helped him integrate at Arsenal.
The midfielder opened up about his love of experiencing new cultures and how he attributes this for his ability to integrate quickly into teams.
“Integration is a difficult topic,” he said. “The best example is the German national team because lots of people from other cultures come together and play with respect. That’s how it should be in general life.
“You should be open with one another, you should treat each other with respect. If that happened, things would look different, also in general.”
It’s interesting to hear because, from the outside, the 26-year-old appears to be quiet and although he certainly doesn’t seem to be a loner, it’s fascinating to find out he’s actually very social with the team.
“I’m the sort of person who can integrate quickly,” the German continued. “I’m a normal person and people who know me know that I’m quite quiet and just like doing my thing. That was the case here, with the German national team and in my youth.
“For example, when I experienced things changing, like if I changed class at school, it wasn’t the case that I would worry about how I would cope not knowing anyone, it was the opposite. I was and still am very open when I meet people.
“It was like that at Arsenal too,” he added. “When I joined the club, I knew some players from playing alongside them in the national team or at Werder Bremen. But in general, I enjoy being able to meet new people and experience new cultures.”
Ozil is still a bit of an enigma for me. From what I’ve read, he seems like an incredibly well-rounded, down-to-earth, cultured man, yet we’re sold the image of a German superstar who doesn’t really care.
Not only does he seem open-minded about many topics, he also does a huge amount of charity work in his free time and is described as a role model by many, which he says he’s incredibly proud of.
“I lived in Spain and got to know the wonderful culture and people there,” Ozil continued. “Now I’m in England, where I’m learning the language and the culture.
“I love what I do and I’m thankful that football helps me develop myself by learning new languages and different cultures. I’m proud of that.”