10 Little-Known Facts About Arsenal's Mesut Ozil
Every little detail of Mesut Ozil's play has been scrutinized since his move to Arsenal last September. Fans have dissected exactly how the German operates on the pitch and have been all too eager to criticize him for mediocre play.
But what of the more interesting, poorly known tidbits about the star's life and personal history? It's natural to wonder a bit about the details of someone who has received so much press and is revered by so many.
Here, then, are 10 facts that you might not have known about Arsenal's Mesut Ozil.
He Prays from the Quran Before Every Match
Earlier in the season, some wondered what Ozil was doing before a big match against Manchester United. Was he praying?
The answer is that he was, and that he does so before every match.
In an interview with the Daily Star, he explained:
I always recite from Quran before I go out (on the pitch). This really helps me to keep me focused.
I pray and my team-mates know that they cannot talk to me during this brief period.
He Is a Third-Generation German
You might have noticed that Ozil does not look particularly German, nor is his name like many of the rest of his teammates on Germany's national team.
That's because his ancestors are from Turkey, and he is a third-generation German. That much you probably knew. But, according to Mesut-Ozil.net, his father Mustafa only moved to Germany when he was two.
Ozil's ancestors are from Northern Turkey, and he can speak Turkish.
Real Madrid and Arsenal Have Never Lost a Game in Which He Scored
Works every time: Get Ozil on the scoresheet, and you will not lose the game.
That's been the formula for Real Madrid and Arsenal for the past several seasons, at least, and it has not failed so far.
So that's an added boost to having him fit and firing again.
Arsene Wenger Tried to Sign Him in 2010
After Ozil's scintillating performance in the 2010 World Cup, he was courted by a variety of elite clubs from around the world. Though he eventually ended up at Real Madrid, Arsene Wenger was one of the first in line.
Via the Independent:
I spoke to him back then on the phone, in the end he told me he wanted to go to Real Madrid, so I wished him well, but that first contact had been made. He knew that I wanted him for a long time, and this was not the first time I tried to sign him.
Imagine Cesc Fabregas and Ozil in the same starting XI. Scary.
Wayne Rooney Wanted Manchester United to Sign Him
During the epic Wayne Rooney contract row of 2010 (remember when he submitted a transfer request and everyone thought he was destined for Manchester City?), the Englishman urged Sir Alex Ferguson to spring for Ozil, the Scot revealed in his autobiography.
Perhaps Rooney really was being controlled by his agent, as Ferguson contended in his autobiography, but Fergie should be remiss about the fact that he did not take his pugnacious striker's advice.
Ozil would have solved the bevy of problems that accompanied United's inability to sign an elite attacking midfielder and could have become a cornerstone of the club's success. Now he competes against them.
He Honed His Skills in the "Monkey Cage"
Like so many footballers who grew up with limited means, Ozil plied his trade on the streets as a young boy before being snatched up by top-flight German clubs.
In fact, according to Biography.com, he got his start in the "Monkey Cage," a local pitch surrounded by fences.
When you think about it, it's actually easy to see how such an environment could have honed Ozil's excellent skill in tight spaces and quickened his decision making while on the ball.
He's Been Playing Top-Flight Football Since 2006
It feels like Ozil has been around forever despite the fact that he is only 25. But that feeling partially stems from the fact that he has been around for many years.
The young Ozil you see above is playing in a Champions League match in 2007, but he got his start well before then. After transferring to Schalke 04 from Rot-Weiss Essen in 2005, he was quickly given the opportunity to make his debut and did so way back in 2006.
He Has Missed Both Penalties He Has Taken for Arsenal
Ozil has taken two penalties for Arsenal and missed both.
One was in a much higher-stakes match than the other, though. The first came in a Champions League victory against Marseille in the group stage.
But the second was against Bayern Munich and could have flipped the entire tie in Arsenal's favor. Both kicks looked fairly weak, potentially pointing to an odd mental deficiency in one of the world's best players.
According to Arsene Wenger, it took Ozil a little while to mentally recover.
He Has Been Likened to Nemo from "Finding Nemo"
Take a look at the above picture and then this picture of the character "Nemo" from Disney's movie Finding Nemo, and decide for yourself if Ozil really did merit the nickname he got at Real Madrid.
According to Sid Lowe of The Guardian, that's what his teammates took to calling him during his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Apparently, he has also been likened to a tortoise, hare, owl, clownfish (the subspecies to which Nemo belongs) and a chameleon. That really hits home because, as you'll see on the next slide...
Ozil and I Are Long-Lost Twins
Who is who?
I've traveled several thousands of miles from my home in the East Coast of the U.S. and people have screamed "Ozil!" when they've seen me. I have taken pictures with people who half-knew I wasn't the real thing but still wanted to show the doppelganger to their mates.
Unfortunately, I don't have Ozil's silky left foot, nor any of his footballing attributes, really. But this is one of the lesser-known Ozil facts, although it's becoming more widely disseminated every time I meet a football fan.