A German-born son of a Turkish immigrant, this young midfielder has brought much-needed finesse and improvisation to the German midfield since establishing himself in the side this season. His magical left-foot can open any door, leading to the kind of invention and guile that can turn a game on its head.
The Gelsenkirchen-born star scaled the heights of the professional game with Schalke 04, tasting his first experience on an international stage in the Champions League. At that time, Ozil was still conducting the midfield in Germany’s youth teams.
It was when he signed for Werder Bremen in January 2008 that his career went into overdrive, stepping into the shoes of Brazilian playmaker Diego to fire the northern club to 2009 German Cup glory with the winning goal.
The weeks that followed were the most important of Ozil’s career to date. At the European U-21 Championship 2009 in Sweden, he inspired Germany to the title with a series of remarkable performances and was voted man of the match in the 4-0 final triumph over England, scoring one goal and providing two assists.
Horst Hrubesch, the coach of that junior German side, has said Ozil reminds him of Maradona. “We do not want to put too much pressure on one player, but he has the ability to achieve anything,” says Hrubesch.
Germany coach Joachim Low rewarded the prodigious young talent with four appearances in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup; with great success too, most notably when Ozil magically laid on Miroslav Klose’s winner as Germany pulled off a decisive 1-0 victory over Russia in Moscow in October 2009.
“Ozil is a gift for German football,” said Low of the 21-year-old. A reserved and modest figure off the pitch, Germany’s new hope cuts an explosive and marauding figure when he crosses the white line.