by Lewis Ambrose
Backing into space that nobody else even sees, dropping a shoulder, playing a pass that didn’t even appear to be a possibility: Mesut Özil is one of the most gifted midfielders in the world.
Those sorts of movements punctuate every game that Özil plays for Arsenal, moving around the pitch so seamlessly that he frequently leaves a huge impression on the match while barely registering to the viewer.
How did he become the player he is today?
“I started playing football with my brother from a very early age,” Özil said talking to Arsenal Player.
“I had the opportunity to play in tight spaces with my friends and my brother, and they were all older than me.
“Through that I had the opportunity to control the ball in the tightest gaps at a young age and that shows today. I’m really thankful for that time.”
That time was spent in what he calls the ‘monkey cage’ back home in Gelsenkirchen.
“You always have the opportunity to improve aspects of your game like finishing, ball control and passing.
“You can train that but as a youngster, I always played with older people in tight areas and that brought me forward.”
While it is clear that Özil has worked hard it is still beyond any doubt that his talent is a gift.
The German has polished his talent, he’s built on it, but what he has is there at a very natural level and he still takes advantage of his instincts for the game.
“I make a lot of decisions instinctively,” said the World Cup winning midfielder.
“You can practice passes and other aspects of your game a lot, but I decide a lot through instinct.
“I see things that some other players may not, and that’s why it’s important for me to have that instinct.
That instinct comes in handy when games – particular at the very highest level – can seem to take place at a million miles an hour.
“It takes me forward on the pitch because nowadays you have to take decisions quickly and if you didn’t have instinct, it would be much tougher.”
Mesut Özil has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is but he couldn’t have done it without a supreme amount of natural ability.
Arsenal have an incredibly gifted player who works hard to get even better.
We are very lucky he plays for us.