Mesut Ozil retires: Former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Germany star announces ‘it’s time to leave the big stage’

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Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from professional soccer on Wednesday with an emotional message via social media. The 34-year-old notably played for Arsenal and Real Madrid and won the FIFA 2014 World Cup with Germany during his storied career.

Ozil burst onto the scene with Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga and then joined Werder Bremen where he was a UEFA Cup runner-up before moving on to Real. Eight years with Arsenal followed before stints with Fenerbahce and finally Istanbul Basaksehir where injuries finally got the better of him.

‘Hello everyone, after thoughtful consideration, l’m announcing my immediate retirement from professional football,” wrote Ozil on Instagram. ‘I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity. 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.

‘It has been an amazing journey filled with unforgettable moments and emotions. I want to thank my clubs — Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Fenerbahce, Basaksehir and the coaches who supported me, plus team-mates who have become friends. Special thanks must go to my family members and my closest friends. They have been a part of my journey from day one and have given me so much love and support, through the good times and the bad.

‘Thank you to all my fans who have shown me so much love no matter the circumstances and no matter which club I was representing. 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 — but you can be sure that you will hear from me from time to time on my social media channels. See you soon, Mesut!’

Ozil won four FA Cup titles with Arsenal and also won La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Real while he fell eight caps short of 100 with Germany who he scored 23 times for and helped to the 2014 World Cup. Injuries have hampered Ozil’s time in Turkey and only 187 minutes of soccer has been possible for him this season after joining Basaksehir following an 18-month spell with Fener.

One of Ozil’s ventures away from the field is UNITY Performance Lab which he and former Arsenal teammate Mathieu Flamini oversee together.