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Mesut Ozil looks forward to playing again at Fenerbahce but shuts door on Germany return

Fenerbahce's Mesut Ozil during the press conference to announce his signing from Premier League club Arsenal. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Fenerbahce's Mesut Ozil during the press conference to announce his signing from Premier League club Arsenal. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Published Jan 27, 2021


ANKARA – New Fenerbahce signing Mesut Ozil said on Wednesday he was at the club he loved but reiterated his commitment to not be available for the German national team, which he quit two years ago.

Ozil was a key member of Germany's World Cup-winning side in 2014. He retired from the squad in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of migrants and after backlash over a photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced "racism and disrespect" over his Turkish ancestry.

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The 32-year-old signed a 3-1/2 year deal with Turkish Super Lig club Fenerbahce on Wednesday, finalising his move to what he has called his boyhood club, after falling out of favour at his former club Arsenal.

"When I go down a path, I never turn back. I wish the German national team success, but I will never again play there," Ozil told reporters at his signing ceremony for Fenerbahce in Istanbul.

The playmaker was among the highest-paid players at Arsenal, but had not featured since last March, despite having played a key role in ending the club's trophy drought, winning the FA Cup in his first season under Arsene Wenger.

He was later marginalised under Wenger's replacement Unai Emery and his successor Mikel Arteta, who said Ozil's omission from the squad was for "football reasons". Ozil was not included in Arsenal's Premier League or Europa League squads this season.

Ozil had long been linked with a move to Fenerbahce, and his eventual move was lauded by Turkish media as one of the most significant transfers by a Super Lig club in recent years.

Fenerbahce sit second in the league after 20 games, two points off leaders and rivals Besiktas and Ozil said he was certain the club will be in contention to win the championship.

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"I've played at big clubs before of course, but Fenerbahce is different for me. It's a club I love," Ozil said. "I was a Fenerbahce fan before and always will be," he added.

Fenerbahce Chairman Ali Koc, who was also in attendance, said the club managed to sign Ozil despite the financial woes it has experienced recently, adding the player's flexibility over payments – including a heavy cut in salary – helped the transfer process.

"The honeymoon is over, now the real work begins," Koc said.

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