Mesut Ozil has spilled the beans on his rude awakening to English football in his new autobiography, Gunner for Greatness: My Life.

  • Mesut Ozil provides the Daily Mail with excerpts from his book Gunning for Greatness: My Life
  • German reveals how physical English league is
  • Describes how Premier League referees told him not to whinge when fouled
  • Claims he’s learned to love it now

When Ozil first signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013, he wasn’t prepared for the type of league he was getting himself into. Spurred on by adrenaline, the playmaker hardly realised the damage the tackles he was suffering had on his body until post-match when he was covered in bruises and scratches.

However, to his surprise, the Premier League referees were far from sympathetic.

“In England you fail to notice how hard it is during the game itself and how many attacks the body sustains,” Ozil explains in his new autobiography, Gunner for Greatness: My life, which is released on 20 April.

“You’re so full of adrenalin that you don’t feel the pain. But then, under the shower, you discover the ‘misery’. After some matches my shins have looked as if someone has gone at them with a hammer, covered in blue marks.

“I’ve had scratches on the neck and bruises on my back, shoulders and chest from opponents’ elbows welcoming me into the Premier League when the referee wasn’t watching.”

He adds, “In an attempt to fight back I’d go running to the ref to begin with and try to ‘work’ him. Every player does it. We all try to influence the referee verbally, to raise his awareness if we’re worried about getting hurt.

“We complain so that the next time he’ll watch more carefully and spot if we’re kicked or elbowed. I do this just like Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben or Lionel Messi — all players who get kicked a lot because opponents are trying to disrupt their rhythm and because sometimes it’s the only way to stop them. 

“But, to my great surprise, I was forced to realise that even the English referees have their very own form of communication. In my early days at Arsenal they dismissed my appeals in a way that made me think I’d misheard them. They’d say things such as ‘Don’t whinge. You’ve got to deal with it. Welcome to the Premier League.’

“Sledging from the opposition. Cutting comments from refs. And football that’s harder than anywhere else — that’s the Premier League. That’s English football. And that’s the football I’ve got used to and love today.”

It’s reassuring to hear the German once again talk about his love for English football.