Ozil car­ries torch for the ‘rain­bow Ger­mans’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL - DES KELLY

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.

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