Mesut Özil’s retirement from the German national team last month was not handled well, Toni Kroos told the Thursday edition of German newspaper Bild.
Kroos sought to stress that he thought Özil to be a “good guy” and added that he “deserved a better departure” from international football.
Özil quit the national team after the shock group stage exit, but also after a larger controversy surrounding his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the World Cup. He published a lengthy statement in English asking whether some quarters of the national team — particularly DFB President Reinhard Grindel — had victimized him because of his Turkish heritage.
“The parts of his resignation statement that are good and well said are sadly overshadowed by the considerably higher proportion of nonsense,” Kroos said. “I think that he himself knows that there’s no racism within the German national team and the DFB. Quite the contrary: we repeatedly promote diversity and integration as a point of principle. Mesut was always a good example of that, like many of our other players.”
‘You have to put up with that as a player’
Kroos said that Özil had deserved criticism after he and Ilkay Gündogan met with Turkey’s Erdogan, but that “nevertheless he was absolutely supported by the coaching staff and the team.” The Real Madrid midfielder acknowledged that Özil had faced some below-the-belt attacks at the time, “but then you have to put up with that as a player.”