Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil has finally broken his silence over his appearance in a photo with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan back in May.
The Arsenal man and his compatriot Ilkay Gundogan have faced plenty of criticism since the photo started making the rounds, but he has taken to Twitter to explain his actions, insisting that his being in the picture was not politically motivated.
“It was not about politics or elections,” Ozil tweeted on Sunday morning. “I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.
“It was about me representing the highest office of my family’s country.”
Ozil’s father had previously sought to explain the appearance, also urging the player to quit the German national side following the abuse he received from his own fans after Die Mannschaft crashed out of the World Cup.
He also hit out at the media, stating: “What I also find disappointing are the double standards that the media have. Lothar Matthaus (an honorary German national team captain) met with another world leader a few days back, and received almost no media criticism.
“If the media felt I should have been left out of the World Cup squad, then surely he should be stripped of his honorary captaincy?”
Having spoken out on the matter himself, Ozil claimed that he was simply being respectful and would have done the same with any head of government.
“During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values I think about to this day,” he added.
“For me, it didn’t matter who was president, it mattered that it was the president. Whether it had been the Turkish or German president, my actions would have been no different.”