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Mesut Özil at GQ España

October 20, 2011
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This interview with Mesut Özil is from September’s issue of GQ España (I was just flipping through the old issue which a friend had and chanced upon it).  In this interview, Mes talks about ambition, his first year at Madrid and being a role model.  The pictures that accompany the interview are from a previous shoot that Mesut did with GQ Germany a year ago.

People say that Germans have their heads on straight, that they don’t know how to improvise, and that they admire tenacity or strength before creativity.  But with Özil, the handy midfielder of Real Madrid, they come up against a brick wall.

Mesut Özil appears at the interview wearing a simple yellow polo shirt and khaki pants, a plain outfit that is combined with flamboyant and enormous flourescent headphones from which Turkish pop emanates at a brutal volume.  He doesn’t like ostentation at all, but his elegant movements and his clairvoyant passes call for attention.  He’s a strange mixture of equal parts German solemnity and Turkish passion.

Have you gotten used to playing in Spanish stadiums full of hostile fans?

When I’m on the field, I usually forget about everything around me.  I try not to let the public pressure me in any way.  I only want to pay attention to the game.  Obviously, when I go near the sideline to take a free kick or a corner, some shouts manage to break my concentration, but – in spite of everything – I try to enjoy the ball in the same way that I did on the dirt field in the neighborhood of Gelsenkirchen where I played as a child.

Do you feel more like a worker than a star?

I try not to lose the connection I have with reality.  That’s important.  From the time I was small, I worked very hard to become a footballer.  I was never satisfied with myself.  First, I tried to be better than my brother, then I tried to be the best among my friends… and that’s how it was, bit by bit.  When I saw Zidane on TV doing his famous ruletas, I would run out onto the streets and try to emulate him during the partidillos with my friends.

Where did you get this ambition from?

From my father.  When I played at the youth level, everyone praised me: “what a great play, Mesut!”  Then my father would come, he would grab my shoulder and say, “don’t believe that, you’re still doing this and this poorly.”  He gave me his opinion, what he thought, without holding anything back.  It’s important to know if one is really doing things well.

Before the World Cup in South Africa, if we thought about Germany, we imagined giant Panzers going to the battle.  However, since you play one touch football…

For me, football is a pure delight.  If I see a ball on the street, I have to go up to it and kick it.  In this sense, I’m like a child.  That’s how I understand the game.  With the ball at the feet.  On the German national team, we try to play well, but we also fight when it’s necessary.  Sometimes we joke about those who try to get out of running and pressuring.

Do you all get along?

Yes, we’re like a family.  Sometimes we even bet each other when we practice our kicks.  The one who makes the least shots has to serve as the waiter that night, to serve the others drinks at dinner during the concentración.

Have you ever had to do it?

The truth is very few times.  I don’t usually lose in these types of bets (laughs).  Normally, it’s others who bring the food to me (laughs).

Give us a name.

Nooooo (laughs)!  I prefer not to reveal anything.

Despite his youth, Özil has made a place for himself in Madrid’s starting line-up, on a team of stars that has melded together better than everyone expected.  The controversy over his Turkish origins and his relationship with the model Anna-Maria (their relationship ended last year) got him on the front pages of many sensational media outlets in his country.  However, ever since he started playing in the Liga, Özil has hardly said anything.  He’s a quiet type that prefers to let the ball at his feet do the talking.

How would you sum up your first season with Madrid?  Do you believe Barcelona is unbeatable?

In the Copa del Rey, we saw that we could win, and in some moments, I believe we showed that we were the best team.  We have potential and I hope to win many more titles this year.  I’m convinced that we will.

What do you enjoy doing more: scoring a goal or giving an incredible assist to Cristiano Ronaldo so that he scores?

I very much enjoy doing both things.  Playing alongside Cristiano – and with other great players – creates a special energy.  One can see a space and give a great pass, but if there is no one to take the shot, the play doesn’t mean anything.

Why do you think José Mourinho creates so much controversy?  What is your opinion of him?

He’s a very special person.  He speaks a lot with the players, especially with the younger ones.  For the players, he’s not only a coach, he’s also a friend.

You grew up in Gelsenkirchen, in a multicultural neighborhood.  What memories do you have of that?

I played with people from Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Germany… and I learned something from each one of them.  That’s what the world is like now, there are people from many different cultures living together.

Have you ever felt racism?

No, the truth is I’ve never had any negative experiences.  My parents are from Turkey, but I was born and grew up in Germany.  I feel German, but I always stress that I’m proud of my Turkish roots.  I feel privileged to have gotten to where I am now.  I want to create a foundation and develop social projects to help the integration of emigrants.  Many people think of me as a role model in this sense.  If I was able to do it, others should be able to do it as well.

Which parts of you are the most Turkish?

The strong sense of friendship and family.  For Turkish people, that’s fundamental.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, the problems that you have, if you ask for help from your true friends or family members, you know that they will help you.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Gilly B permalink
    October 20, 2011 12:49

    Lovely interview. Mesut has been so impressive at Madrid- I like his focus and how low key he is. His idea for a social project focused on integration would be great- there aren’t many footballers who could launch that, but his profile and experience makes him perfect for it. Cheers Una 🙂

  2. Didi permalink
    October 20, 2011 12:52

    *SIGH*….He is so cute. Especially when he talks about the bets that the players make with eachother.

  3. Moonzi permalink
    October 20, 2011 13:55

    One of my favourites on The team! I love this guy ! he’s selfless and he puts the others above him ! True talent and true gentleman!

  4. conflictedinspain permalink
    October 20, 2011 14:09

    This was such a lovely interview to wake up to! Thank you Una for providing it. I loved his answer about not having to serve his teammates at dinner. Always so humble. I too love his idea about a foundation. He’s certainly got the profile and the voice to make a difference for young kids all around the world.

  5. Aika permalink
    October 20, 2011 14:17

    I love you Mesut!!! More power!!!

  6. Alyssa permalink
    October 20, 2011 19:08

    He’s such a cutie…inside and out 🙂

  7. Jenny permalink
    October 20, 2011 22:44

    How sweet – and I’m very impressed how a translation of the German to the Spanish to the English keeps the original meaning so well!

  8. cisarovna permalink
    October 21, 2011 03:51

    what a tease! he tells us the good stuff but won’t name names! LOL

  9. black widow permalink
    October 21, 2011 04:32

    he’s adorable. and i snickered like mad seeing him hold an actual bambi trophy. heh. 😀

  10. Gillian permalink
    October 21, 2011 04:43

    Can I hug him? Damn! He’s so adorable and polite! What a cutie!

  11. October 22, 2011 17:46

    So cute (: Hala Madrid ❤

  12. palupi dheean permalink
    October 24, 2011 11:58

    The most favourite player of mine. So talented, polite and always down to earth, soooooooo adorable. Ich liebe dich Ozil

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