'I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose,' says Mesut Ozil as he quits international football

Mesut Ozil was criticised for appearing with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: AP

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has quit the German national team with a powerful public statement in which he accuses the nation's FA of treating him with "racism and disrespect".

Ozil, whose family origins are part Turkish, has faced criticism within the German media after he posed for a photograph with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The 29-year-old World Cup winner claimed German FA (DFB) chiefs "wanted him out of the team" before the latest tournament, which Germany crashed out of in the group stages.

Ozil was blamed by some for Germany's World Cup failure. Credit: PA

According to Ozil, only the intervention of head coach Joachim Low and team manager Oliver Bierhoff ensured he would then take part at the World Cup.

Ozil wrote: "The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.

"People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has many players from dual-heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent.

Mesut Ozil insisted there were no political undertones behind the photograph with the Turkish leader, along with Germany team-mate Ilkay Gundogan. Credit: AP

"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level while I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.

"I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don't. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my team-mates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.

"But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted."

The German football federation said it "regrets the departure of Mesut Ozil from the national team".

Former Real Madrid midfielder Ozil, who has won 92 caps for Germany and helped them win the 2014 World Cup, also revealed he and his family had received hate mail and threatening phone calls and been subjected to social media abuse.

Ozil has insisted there were no political undertones behind the Erdogan photographs, which also featured his international team-mate Ilkay Gundogan, and said those against him had treated him as a "German when we win, an immigrant when we lose".

Defending his decision to pose with Erdogan, he wrote: "The past couple of weeks have given me time to reflect, and time to think over the events of the last few months. Consequently, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what has happened.

"Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. While I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey. I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.

"I'm aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and while some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.

"Although the German media have portrayed something different, the truth is that not meeting with the president would have been disrespecting he roots of my ancestors, who I know would be proud of where I am today. For me, it didn't matter who was president, it mattered that it was the president.

"My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies.

"I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different.

"Whatever the outcome would've been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture."

A DFB statement read: "We emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism. The DFB has been very involved in integration work in Germany for many years."