Ozil carries torch for the ‘rainbow Germans’
THERE was a school of thought that Germany would be weaker without Michael Ballack at this World Cup.
That was until Mesut Ozil took his bow. The 21-year-old midfielder has become the standard bearer for the German nation’s youngest World Cup squad since 1934 and the most cosmopolitan in the country’s history.
Few doubt that coach Joachim Loew appears to have football’s next superstar on his hands, and the concern for Fabio Capello is that Ozil might take another stride towards proving that tomorrow.
England have already been warned.
Assistant manager Stuart Pearce can recall how Ozil destroyed his England under-21 side at the European Championship final just 12 months ago, orchestrating and scoring one himself in a 4-0 defeat.
“I think Ozil is an outstanding player,” said Pearce. “He takes up intelligent positions and is a threat.”
Since then, Ozil’s rise has been spectacular, crowned by the winning goal against Ghana on Wednesday night that clinched Germany’s place in the last 16.
Captain Philipp Lahm said: “It’s not easy to fill Ballack’s boots, but Mesut’s doing it his way and taking responsibility. He is a superb player. He always wants the ball and has great technical ability. Although he’s relatively new to the team, he’s already become an important figure. It’s obvious he has a wonderful future. Ozil can become one of the best.”
Centrehalf Arne Friedrich agrees he is on his way to greatness: “There will be highs and lows but he has it in him to be a superstar. And we will help him.”
Already, Europe’s big clubs are tussling over his signature. Ozil, whose contract with Werder Bremen expires in 2011, has attracted interest from Arsenal, Manchester City and Juventus.
He is now valued at around £18 million (R206m).
Ozil was pressed to follow German-born Hamit and Halil Altintop and Yildiray Basturk into the Turkey squad but refused and made his Germany debut against Norway in 2009. He is the latest star addition to an increasingly diverse German line-up.
But although the names sound exotic, Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez, Jerome Boateng, and Dennis Aogo are all the sons of German mothers and immigrant fathers – Tunisian, Spanish, Ghanaian and Nigerian respectively.
Ozil and Serdar Tasci are thirdand second-generation Germans. And, crucially, they were all born in Germany. – Daily Mail
THE PERFECT STAND-IN: Mesut Ozil, who came into the side for Michael Ballack, fires in a superb goal for Germany to beat Ghana.