Mesut Özil has played a number of derbies in his clubs, with Arsenal FC against Tottenham, Real Madrid against Atlético, Werder Bremen against Hamburger SV and many more. The one with the most serious consequences was probably the one on May 12, 2007. The referee was Herbert Fandel, the opposing coach was called Thomas Doll, and Marc-André Kruska, Markus Brzenska and the honorable, but undoubtedly aged, warrior Christian Wörns also participated. Özil was just of legal age and was preparing to become German champions in his first season in a professional team. It turned out differently.
It was another tragic afternoon for his club, among other things because Christoph Metzelder crowned what was probably the only cross run of his professional career with a template that Ebi Smolarek completed with the final goal. Borussia Dortmund won 2-0 against leaders Schalke 04 on matchday 33, helping VfB Stuttgart to the championship.
Nobody knows how world history would have developed if the favorite had defeated the outsider back then, but as it looks now, Özil and Schalke share a common fate again 13 years later. The brilliant playmaker and the club from his hometown are currently among the big losers in contemporary football.
Özil complains about a lack of loyalty
While Schalke 04 showed on Saturday evening at 3-0 in the Revierderby at BVB that it had forgotten the central topic of top-class sport, winning, Özil had to learn at the beginning of the week that he is now a top player without a team. His club, Arsenal FC, let him know in the course of an administrative act that he sees no use for him. When the Londoners nominated the squad for the current Premier League season, they decided not to report Mesut Özil for one of the 25 places.
The person concerned expressed disappointment and complained of a lack of loyalty, while his coach Mikel Arteta protested against the assumption that the decision was not for sporting reasons, but for domestic political reasons imposed by the club authorities. The decision is a matter of football, said the coach, although he regards the vote against the 32-year-old German world champion as a personal defeat. Özil was given a “very fair chance”, but without any foreseeable benefit. Arteta took responsibility: “I failed as a coach.”
Despite these assurances, observers from English professional football suspect that the cold exclusion was the result of a dispute between the player and the club: After Özil irritated the club’s business operations at the end of last year by making a statement in favor of the Uyghur people who are oppressed in China – Arsenal earned in China good money – he continued the confrontation in the spring with the refusal to participate in the wage cut. When he recently offered to pay the employee, who had been dismissed for financial reasons and who has played the club mascot Gunnersaurus for years, the club management was allowed to see this as a provocation.
After his disembarkation, Özil announced that he would not only continue to train hard, but also “wherever possible, use my voice against inhumanity and for justice”.
The question is how far Özil’s polished and sometimes very pathetic statements come from his own choice of words, and how far his actions are based on his own conviction and initiative. Or whether others steer him and he unfortunately lets it happen to him.