The Wizard of Ozil: A polarising yet masterful character bids farewell

A footballing great in his own right, Mesut Ozil bids farewell to the beautiful game as we look back on what made the man into a character.

Some players make a lasting impression on fans and have their style etched on their minds for years. Mesut Ozil should get his name spoken in the same breath as someone like Andreas Iniesta, Kaka, Xavi, and others. The German playmaker had a tremendous career with ups and downs but gave his all to football.

It is not easy to look at Ozil’s career and think it was straightforward. His divisive views brought everyone together for his talents on the pitch. The German was a character to behold. And in places where he played, fans often looked back fondly at his contributions.

Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal and a host of Turkish sides were fortunate enough to see the masterclass of the man. While success is often rated on the goldust in the trophy cabinet, people will remember Ozil for the beauty of his game than the accolades he has to show, of which he has many.

He does have a few important trophies in his cabinet, with the World Cup being the most notable. While his time at places ended on a sour note, he will be somewhat remembered as a footballer who brought joy to the faces of the fans.

From giving the term ‘assist’ its real value to playing with some of the best players in the world, Ozil has seen and experienced it all. But not everyone would agree, he was a superstar in many ways than not.

Let’s look back at what was the Wizard of Ozil and how a career with beautiful moments and controversies panned out. From making Arsenal feel big again to indirectly starting one of the most successful eras in Real Madrid’s history, Ozil has done it all.

Ozil’s impact at Real Madrid and Florentino Perez

Hardly any player in world football would reject Real Madrid if they came calling. Ozil’s talents got viewed for greater things, and the Merengues made an offer neither Werder Bremen nor Ozil could refuse. He fit their plans like a hand to a glove, and soon it started looking like the ultimate value-for-money deal.

In one of his most prolific seasons in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo described, “Mesut Ozil made me the world’s best striker.” The quote makes plenty of sense as the German shoehorned the Portuguese into becoming the world’s top-rated forward. Unfortunately, the duo did not have many years together, owing to Florentino Perez’s masterplan.

In the last decade, only two players forced out of Real Madrid have thrived on having successful careers. Angel Di Maria and Ozil are these stars who have gone on to have a good time elsewhere. In the German’s case, he got sold on deadline day in the summer of 2013, supposedly to fund a move for Gareth Bale from Tottenham.

The latter became a part of Real Madrid’s most successful era in recent decades. But Ozil had already made a real impact at Madrid, and the fans loved him. They were even caught on camera dissing Perez for his decision to sell the German.

Perez cannot be at fault for the decision that benefitted the club. But we can only wonder what impact Ozil would have had if he had remained in Madrid and played with Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. The trio went on to succeed and forge the famed BBC’s tag.

Ozil made Arsenal feel like a big club again

Since the Emirates commenced in 2006, Arsenal carried the image of a miserly club. They were unable to pay money to their stars or capable of buying some. In truth, they were reeling from making payments towards the stadium. Arsene Wenger took a cautious approach. But one decision in September 2013 would change how the club was supposedly perceived.

Fans already knew, thanks to the now infamous smirk from Wenger right before deadline day when asked who was coming to the club. Ozil arrived as a then-club-record signing that shattered previous transactions and made Arsenal feel like a big club again.

No other signing has made Arsenal fans feel the same way since that day. Ozil’s arrival boosted the club’s image in the market and made them feel like a top side again. This was when everyone else was spending significantly to sign bonafide superstars.

There is much debate about his time at Arsenal. But this is where the assist-maker made a name for himself as one of the master technicians of the game. From a debut assist to that late Champions League winner against Ludogorets, Gunners fans will remember Ozil fondly.

Overall, Ozil raised the floor at Arsenal, and his playing style encapsulated Wenger’s football ideas. A master creator in his prime entertaining the Emirates crowd was something to behold. He did bring plenty of joy and important moments.

Some of his stats for Arsenal are astonishing and remain unbroken. He has the record for the highest chances created in a Premier League game, in a Premier League season, and in one Champions League match. All of those remain intact, as only Kevin De Bruyne has come close to matching it.

Some of his top moments for Arsenal came in the 2015/16 season when they went the closest to challenging for the Premier League title. He laid an astonishing 19 assists that season. Only persistent injury troubles with Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud prevented Wenger and Ozil from lifting the title.

His time at Arsenal ended on the wrong note. Many accused him of being complacent since signing the highly lucrative deal. Moreover, he stirred up many controversies during this period. It affected his image and possibly ended his time in the Emirates before a move to Turkey transpired.

A controversial figure but a gem of a human being.

Football is a business that can be ruthless and inhuman at times. Ozil was one of the few players to publicly criticise this image of the game and called for equality on all fronts. From helping sick children to innumerable charities, the man has done his deed to improve the world.

He infamously donated all his winnings from the 2014 World Cup triumph towards children needing critical operations. A devout Muslim, Ozil has donated vast amounts to help needy people. However, he had his head too much in the latter stages of his Arsenal career, which somewhat wrecked his relationship with the club.

He voiced his opinion on China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, which may not have benefitted the Premier League as a brand. For his part, he was right to call out his club for not making any political statement and criticised them for not talking about those issues.

He lost a fortune in standing up to his beliefs, including a reported £22 million deal with Adidas. However, he will be fondly remembered for his time on the pitch and his masterclass in football more than anything else.

For Arsenal fans, they will fondly look at the player doing the no.11 shirt more than the figure in the No.10 jersey. For all his opinions, which were controversial on many fronts, Ozil represented a man who stood by his principles and remained fearless until the end.

The Wizard of Ozil will remain etched in football folklore, and the streets won’t forget the man. A Happy retirement to the maestro, and as he promised, fans will continue to hear from him in the next phase.

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