BERLIN – German midfielder Mesut Özil has made his first public comments on the national team's early exit from the football World Cup in Russia.
"Having to leave the World Cup already after the group stage hurts so much," Özil tweeted.
"We just weren't good enough. I'll need some time to get over it, " added Özil.
He ended with the hashtag "#SayNoToRacism."
Özil, who is of Turkish origin, has come in for criticism after a controversial meeting he and team-mate Ilkay Guendogan had with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month.
Having to leave the World Cup already after the group stage hurts so much. We just weren't good enough. I'll need some time to get over it. #SayNoToRacism #Worldcup #Russia2018 #M1Ö pic.twitter.com/mFOOhYQZen
At their meeting in London, Guendogan presented Erdogan a football shirt bearing the message to "my revered president."
Whereas Guendogan has stressed there was no political motive behind the meeting and reiterated his loyalty to the German national team, Özil has refrained from commenting on the matter.
Though fans and experts have heaped scorn on various players on the ill-fated German side, Özil, who plays for Arsenal in England's Premier League, has especially been singled out after the 2014 champions' shock exit from the tournament this week.