The media storm that’s spouted on between Mesut Özil and the German Football federation (DFB) has ended with the midfielder officially announcing his resignation from the German National team after achieving 92 career appearances, 23 goals, and 40 assists. He was an integral part of Germany’s World Cup win in 2014, but was made to be the scapegoat by the DFB after Die Mannschaft’s shock exit from the 2018 World Cup in the group stages. The photograph that he and İlkay Gündoğan took with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was said by members of the DFB to be too much of an off-field distraction, as it caused a frenzy of criticism among the German press.
Speaking to ESPN FC (via ESPN), former Bayern Munich and Germany legend Lothar Matthäus insisted that Özil’s time with Germany was up well before he decided to resign earlier this week. When asked whether or not Germany will miss Özil, Matthäus was quick to say that the depth Germany currently possesses is strong enough to the point where Özil won’t be missed:
No, we have a lot of good players, and when some player can not perform like before, we have options to give the new generation the chance to help us to make the results like, for example, 2014.
His opinion on Özil, Matthäus explained, strictly had to do with football and football alone; nothing to do with the political ramifications of the photo that was taken with President Erdoğan. Football and politics, Matthäus said, are completely separate from one another and should not be mixed:
I think football is football, politics is politics. Mesut made a good job for Germany in [previous] years but in the last one and a half years he didn’t hit the same performance like four years ago when we won the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil against Argentina. I think his time to play in the national team is over. Not because of some picture, of of political decision. It doesn’t matter, I don’t care. I see the football player Mesut Ozil, and he didn’t perform like before.
When asked about the critical remarks Uli Hoeness made on Özil’s resignation from the national team, Matthäus admitted that the Bayern President may have been a bit exaggerated, but still backed the opinion that the midfielder has been under-performing for a while now:
I never speak against Uli Hoeness, but OK, Uli Hoeness was very angry this morning because this was too much the last two months about Mesut Özil. The German team lost the games against Mexico and South Korea, not only Mesut Özil. But Mesut Özil was -- is a part of this national team. And he’s normally a leader but in the last one, two years, he didn’t show he’s a leader, he didn’t show the right performances. For me, it’s only important [if] Mesut Özil can help the national team or not, and I have this feeling in the last one and a half year, he never played on this level how we played before, and now it’s time for changes. It’s time for changes!