World Bulletin / News Desk
Mesut Ozil on Monday was warmly applauded by Turkey but faced uproar at home in Germany after announcing he was quitting the German national football team, lambasting "racism" over criticism for the side's World Cup debacle.
"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect," he said in a statement on social media channels on Sunday.
Ozil, 29, said he had been unfairly blamed in Germany for the side's shock group stage exit at the World Cup.
He insisted he was true to both his Turkish and German origins and did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan a month ahead of elections in Turkey.
"I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish," said Ozil.
The Turkish government of Erdogan, who has championed a campaign against what Ankara sees as growing Islamophobia in Europe, hailed Ozil's move.
"I congratulate Mesut Ozil who by leaving the national team has scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism," Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul wrote on Twitter.
Turkey's Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu, like Gul posting the picture of a smiling Ozil with Erdogan, added: "We sincerely support the honourable stance that our brother Mesut Ozil has taken".Last Mod: 23 Temmuz 2018, 09:53