InterviewWhen Mesut Özil realized in September 2013 that he was actually leaving Real Madrid, tears came to his eyes on the plane. The world champion of 2014, who recently retired from football, regrets the quarrel with Florentino Pérez in retrospect, with the president he would now “talk quite normally” again.
„I would have liked us to solve the situation differently“
MADRID. In the end it was only three years. As Mesut Ozil Having moved from Werder Bremen to the great Real Madrid after the 2010 World Cup, he had an image in his mind of wearing that mystical white jersey for quite a while. In early September 2013, just after Gareth Bale’s €101m arrival, his stint at Los Blancos finally came to an abrupt end – although a few days earlier he had stressed he would definitely stay.
In the course of negotiations for a new contract, his father Mustafa had previously messed it up with Florentino Pérez, demanded too much money and ultimately slammed the president’s office door. For Pérez it was clear: If the first offer came up, the number 10 would be sold – immediately. Arsenal struck, transferred around 50 million euros.
Özil, who recently declared his active career as a footballer over, would have imagined things a little differently in retrospect. “At the time it seemed right to me because after the argument between my father and Pérez I was worried that if I didn’t go I wouldn’t get any more minutes of the game. Hence: difficult to say. But of course I would have wished at the time that we had solved the situation differently“said the 34-year-old in an interview with the sports newspaper MARCA.
Özil on Pérez: “Could speak normally again”
He got himself „felt bad” and be „very sad” been, „when I left Madrid. I remember at the airport… uff. It’s been three very good years for me at Real and in this city, I’ve been really happy. But things have happened. At the beginning of the season I didn’t have that many minutes and a conflict arose between Pérez and my father. We had to look for a new club. The moment the plane took off, tears came to my eyes. That was the moment I realized it was over”.
For him personally, the dispute with Pérez is now over. „It’s been a long time since I left. I no longer have a problem with anyone. I’m sure we could talk normally again. Without problems”said Özil, who has not been back to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu since his departure: “I was in Paris for the last Champions League final to support Real Madrid, of course. Unfortunately, in recent years it has not been possible to return to the Bernabéu due to my appointments. It would be a pleasure for me to do that one day.”
#The cover “When I left Real Madrid I started to cry” / “A legendary event” pic.twitter.com/XDpwDP0Ssb
— MARCA (@marca) March 23, 2023
Mesut Özil: That’s why I didn’t go to Barça
Özil also spoke about…
…his transfer in the summer of 2010 and the decision against FC Barcelona: “It was a decision between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the time. In the end it wasn’t a question of money. I visited Madrid and Barcelona respectively and José Mourinho made the difference. For me it was a VIP visit to Real Madrid from him, I saw the stadium and all the trophies, I got goosebumps. The visit to Barcelona was less than exciting – and what disappointed me the most was that Pep Guardiola didn’t bother to meet me. Before this trip, I liked Barcelona’s football style and could really see myself playing for them. José Mourinho was undoubtedly the most important factor in my decision. After my visits, my decision was 100 percent clear: I wanted to be a madridista.”
…his performance in Madrid: “I was 21 years old, had already played a World Cup with Germany and had gained European experience with Werder. But that day I had never experienced before. So many photographers and journalists who only focus on me. It wasn’t an easy day, I was very nervous. But it was a very special day. There is no club quite like Real Madrid when it comes to presentations. On that day you realize that you are going to another level.”
Mesut Özil: “Cristiano the best in history”
…die Real-Fans: “The Madrid fans are really incredible. Even ten years after leaving Madrid, I still get support and spectacular affection from the fans. It is really incredible. I think we had three very nice years together. Three years that the fans enjoyed and in which they saw that I gave everything for the club. I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect this support to last for so long. So I can only thank the madridistas.”
…Jose Mourinho: “Everyone already knows my cabin anecdote with him (laughs). But we still had a great relationship. He always knew how to motivate me, how to make me better every day. He’s an incredible coach and I’m proud to have played for him. For me, José Mourinho is the best coach of this century. His tactical understanding is something else, but so is his way of speaking in the dressing room… And how he always protects his team from the press! He really is a world-class coach.”
…Cristiano Ronaldo: “It was a lot of fun playing with Cristiano Ronaldo. For me he is the best player in history. We got along very well on the pitch, it went perfectly. I prepared balls and he converted them. Giving passes to a player who almost never failed was a gift.”
Mesut Özil: “The team would have deserved the Champions League”
…Sergio Ramos: “Sergio Ramos is the best defender I’ve played with. And who had the most character. At that time he was still very young, but he already had a very strong mentality. He was incredible. It was clear that he would lead Real Madrid to a Champions League title sooner or later. He’s a real boss. Back then he was one of my best friends. We had a lot of fun together and spent a lot of time outside of training. He was crucial for me to settle down quickly at Real Madrid, he helped me a lot.”
…the Clásicos in his real time: “I think I’ve witnessed the best Clásico era. Madrid versus Barça in their heyday. Even in a Champions League semi-final. They were games that had everything. It was Mou against Pep, Cristiano against Messi… Meanwhile, the Clásico has lost intensity and emotion, I would say. Beating Barcelona back then was like an orgasm. I also have to say that our 5-0 league defeat in 2010 was one of my biggest nightmares on a football field. I’ve played a lot of games, played a lot of derbies, but I don’t think there was anything like those Clásicos.”
… the Champions League title that Real always missed: “Winning the Champions League was one of my dreams, yes. But that’s life, you can’t have everything. I wouldn’t swap the Champions League for the World Cup. Of all the semi-finals with Real Madrid, I would say the one against Dortmund hurt me the most. On the one hand because I’m a Schalke player. And on the other hand, since we were close. We lost control in the first leg and were severely punished for it. The second leg was… We were incredibly strong, the Bernabéu was unique, but we were a goal short. This team deserved a Champions League.”
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“I was in tears”: Özil on Real’s departure, Pérez and Ronaldo
When Mesut Özil realized in September 2013 that he was actually leaving Real Madrid, tears came to his eyes on the plane. The world champion of 2014, who recently retired from football, regrets the quarrel with Florentino Pérez in retrospect, with the president he would now “talk quite normally” again.