Germany's World Cup-winning midfielder Mesut Özil announced his retirement from football at the age of 34 on Wednesday.
The former Real Madrid and Arsenal player was a key member of Germany's World Cup-winning side in Brazil in 2014.
He retired from the squad in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of migrants and after backlash over a photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced "racism and disrespect" over his Turkish ancestry.
"I've had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity," Özil, who most recently played for Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, said in a statement on Instagram.
Thank you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Aqr4pB5SI2— Mesut Özil (@M10) March 22, 2023
"But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it's become more and more clear that it's time to leave the big stage of football."
Özil made 645 appearances for club and country, in which he scored 114 goals and had 222 assists.
He began his senior career with Schalke 04 in Germany, before moving to Werder Bremen. His performances earned him a call up to Germany's squad for the 2010 World Cup, where he helped his country reach the semifinals.
He signed for Real Madrid a month after the World Cup and spent three years in Spain, winning one LaLiga title and the Spanish Super Cup. Ozil made 105 LaLiga appearances for Real, scoring 19 goals.
Following @M10’s announcement that he has retired from professional football, Real Madrid C.F. wants to show its appreciation, its admiration and its affection for one of our great players. Good luck, dear Mesut, to you and your family. pic.twitter.com/jgQWam82Iw— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 22, 2023
Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid, one of the best players you’ll ever see in their prime.Happy retirement you legend.
— Janty (@CFC_Janty) March 22, 2023
He joined Arsenal in 2013, helping them win the first of four FA Cup titles the following year. He scored 33 Premier League goals and made 59 assists in his time in north London.
Thanks for the memories - wishing you all the best in your retirement, Mesut ❤️ pic.twitter.com/sqDFl3esj2— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 22, 2023
Never forget this brilliant goal from Mesut Ozil Class ✨
(via @Arsenal) pic.twitter.com/A03vQKls1B
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 22, 2023
He also played a starring role for Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, starting all seven of their games as they became the first European team to win the tournament on South American soil.
"Mesut Özil was one of our outstanding national team players," Germany coach Hansi Flick, who was assistant coach at the 2014 World Cup, said.
"In his most successful time he was among the best players in the world. I enjoyed working with him. He had exceptional abilities. His skills and game overview were outstanding."
Özil scored 23 international goals in his 92 matches for Germany.
"We all at the national team wish him and his family all the best for his time after his career," Flick said.
Özil joined Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2021 after Arsenal terminated his contract and then moved to Istanbul Basaksehir less than a year later.
"It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions," he added.
"I want to thank my clubs - Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal FC, Fenerbahce, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus team mates who have become friends.
"Now I'm looking forward to everything that is in front of me with my beautiful wife, Amine, and my two beautiful daughters, Eda and Ela."
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)