Mesut Ozil spoke in June about why he doesn’t sing Germany’s national anthem before matches.
The German has endured a torturous summer that has seen him blamed in his home country for their embarrassment at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
Forced to retire from international football because of what he believes to be racially-motivated and excessive criticism, Ozil can be left in no doubt how few people connected with German football actually have his back.
Contrast that to the clubs, players, and officials in Turkey who have been quick to offer their support to the man who opted to play for another country instead of theirs.
Speaking recently, yet another Bayern Munich mouthpiece decided to have another dig at Ozil. Franz Beckenbauer, the German great, told Bild, “From the outside, I also had the impression that the passion had been somewhat watered down in the four years since the World Cup victory.
“Therefore, a rebuild with hungry, hot players is needed.
“The singing of the national anthem also plays a role. Who sings before the game frees himself more than chewing gum.”
While Beckenbauer doesn’t name Ozil specifically most were left in no doubt that he was talking about him.
Ozil, however, already explained why he doesn’t sing the national anthem. “While the anthem is being played, I pray, and I am sure that this will give us strength and confidence to drive the victory home,” Ozil told Mission Titel in June.
“I think it’s a pity if I or a teammate is convicted – because I’m sure people do not know why everyone does not sing along loudly.”
Writing in his autobiography, Ozil dedicated an entire chapter, called ‘A bone of contention between Germany and Turkey,’ to explaining how and why he opted for Germany over Turkey.
At the end of it, he writes, “After careful consideration I chose to play for Germany. I did my job well. And I feel comfortable and at home in the country of my birth. But I feel comfortable in Turkey too. And I’ve also had great times in Madrid and London.
“The media often tries to force you to tie yourself down to one thing. Along the lines of: ‘Come on, tell us. What are you? German? Or Turkish? Where do you prefer to be? Germany or Turkey? You have to choose one. Come on, commit yourself. You can’t be both. There’s only black and white. There’s only Turkish or German.’
“I had to make the decision about whether I wanted to play for Germany or Turkey. Logically I had to opt for one or the other; there was no way around it. But I don’t like being hustled in that sort of way.
“You can definitely belong to two cultures. And you can certainly be proud of two cultures. A heart can beat Turkish and German at the same time. You can think like a German and feel Turkish. That’s how integration works. With mutual respect, like in a great football club.
“I’m proud to have chosen the German national team, in spite of the pressure. And I’m happy that I’ve never turned my back on Turkey.”
One can’t help but wonder if he still feels that pride now…