Mesut Ozil’s father Mustafa has said that he would retire from international duty with Germany if he was in his son's shoes.
The Arsenal playmaker has been targeted for criticism in the aftermath of the 2014 champions’ premature exit from the ongoing World Cup and as a consequence, his future on the international scene has been called into question.
In particular, he and Ilkay Gundogan have come under fire for being pictured meeting controversial Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan prior to the tournament, which Oliver Bierhoff, the team’s public relations manager, admitted could have been seen as a reason to leave him out of the squad.
The 29-year-old was also booed in a pre-tournament friendly as Joachim Low’s side crashed to a defeat against Austria, a foreshadowing of what was to come.
Things got little better for Ozil once in Russia, with Germany suffering defeats to Mexico and South Korea to consign them to a stunning early exit from the competition.
“If I were in his place, I would say: ‘Thank you, but that’s enough,’” the 50-year-old told Bild am Sonntag.
“He’s bent, disappointed and offended, yes, offended, his own fans booed him before the World Cup at the international in Austria and he cannot understand why.
“He doesn’t always have to defend himself. He’s played in the national team for nine years … and became a world champion.
“It’s always said that if we win, we win together, but if we lose, we lose because of Ozil.
“He’s booed and put up as a scapegoat – I completely understand that he is offended.
“Mesut’s been an example for years. The situation is absurd – he loves Germany and has shown commitment to his country, that he’s presented as a scapegoat is so unfair.”
Mustafa, who was once the player’s advisor but no longer holds that position, hinted that he might have counselled his son not to be photographed alongside Erdogan.
“I thought: ‘This isn’t such a good idea.’ But I didn’t think: ‘Uh oh, everything is collapsing now,’” he said.
“It wasn’t the first photo of Mesut with Erdogan, I knew it wasn’t a political statement from him or anything like that.
“He had it taken out of politeness. Mesut is a reserved person, almost shy, how could he have turned down a photo if a man like Erdogan asks him?
“Mesut is an athlete who wants to play football and has nothing to do with politics, which is why he did not think anything about the picture.”
Criticism is nothing new for Ozil, whose laidback demeanour on the field has often attracted critics at club level.