Mesut Ozil has been one of the outstanding players of the World Cup so far. His instinctive movement and accurate passing tore open an, albeit willing, Australian defence and his phenomenal strike against Ghana to send Germany through to the knockout stages exemplified a talent for striking and controlling a ball with lethal precision and power.
So, with terror etched indelibly on our faces for what may come upon us on Sunday, let us examine the short career of who Philipp Lahm has dubbed, ‘The German Gazza’.
Born in Gelsenkirchen – notably, where England were last dumped out of the World Cup – in 1988, Mesut Ozil played for several local clubs before settling into Schalke 04’s youth setup. Ozil’s stay with Schalke’s youth team, which is also responsible for producing young German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, was a temporary one. In 2006, after only a year in the youth side, and having been called up to represent his country at U-17 level, he earned his place in the senior team.
A year later Ozil made the move from the U-17 national team to the U-21’s where he became an instrumental playmaker. In a remarkably talented side, Ozil’s ability stood apart during the 2009 U-21 European Championships. Following a slow start, Ozil was regarded as the catalyst for the Germans fluid latter performances, including their 4-0 final thrashing of England.
In 2008, Ozil made the trip north from Gelsenkirchen to Bremen in a £3.5m transfer to Werder. Ozil quickly became a prolific figure for die Grün-Weißen despite still being in his younger years. He scored his first Bundesliga goal for Werder in a 3-3 draw against Karlsruhe in April 2008. The following season, the playmaker scored 3 more league goals with the addition of creating 14 more. But it was his most recent season in which he really came to life, scoring eight goals and assisting 16 in the Bundesliga, firing Bremen to third in the table.
At the tender age of 21, Ozil graced the grandest stage of all this summer in South Africa with a formidable performance against Australia and a vitally important goal against Ghana.
Unsurprisingly, the powerhouses of European football and Tottenham are already keenly interested in prying the youngster away from his current club.
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