In FourFourTwo’s latest edition, Mesut Ozil’s former teacher, Christian Krabbe, revealed how he used chess to help hone the playmakers talents on the pitch.

The 28-year-old was born and grew up in Germany, and it appears that even when he was a young boy at school, he was already showing signs of becoming an amazing footballer.

“When I saw him play for the first time in the schoolyard, it was absolutely incredible,” said Christian Krabbe.

“He had just come to our school from the primary school. We had eight classes in each school year and we had a tournament between the class teams, to see if there were some good kids for the school team. He was absolutely fantastic.

“Whenever he had the ball, he just drove through the back four andthen gave the ball to someone else so they could score. He didn’t score goals; he assisted them. Even at that age, he had an overview – he could read exactly what was going on.”

After observing Ozil play in the schoolyard, Krabbe had some rather unusual advice for the playmaker to help him anticipate other players’ moves even sooner.

“I was part of the national chess federation before I became a teacher and I suggested to Mesut, ‘Why not play chess?'” Krabbe revealed.

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“I thought that if he was part of a football team and staying in a hotel somewhere, he could take the chess board and play, and learn some strategic ideas. He said ‘OK, I will try that out’ – and he liked it. I think he uses it on the football pitch now. He knows the next three moves on the pitch.”

Mesut Ozil
Arsenal’s German midfielder Mesut Ozil (C) is surrounded by West Brom players during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2016. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

It certainly is a unique way of developing his brain and would indeed explain why he’s so good at anticipating the movements of others before they’ve even happened. Many of us attribute this to his footballing vision, which I’m sure it is so a certain extent, but playing chess, a game which revolves around sensing how your opposition is going to move and acting accordingly, could have helped him develop this further.

Nice one, Mr. Krabbe.