Interview

"I’ve always loved to give assists..."

Mesut Ozil’s performance against Leicester City on Monday has rightly been hailed as one of Emirates’ greatest individual displays.

The wonderfully poised finish for the opening goal; the geometric perfection of the pre-assist for Hector Bellerin in the build up to the second and the simply magnificent all round contribution to our jaw-dropping third.

For Mesut, creating goals has always given him just as much enjoyment as scoring them, though it’s worth noting his Leicester strike makes him the Premier League’s all-time leading scorer from Germany, with 30. And it’s always been that way...

 

“Most kids only enjoy scoring goals but ever since I was young, I’ve always loved to give assists,” says the 30 year-old

“Why? It’s simple really. Through giving an assist, your friend can score and you help your team. Whenever I receive the ball, I always think offensively so I can pick out chances to score a goal or assist someone. That’s why it’s normal for me to always get the ball and play it forwards.

“In my opinion, a creative player should always have fun on the pitch and should trust their playing style in order to help the team. I’ve been playing this way my whole life, which is why I still enjoy giving my team-mates assists to this day.”
Mesut’s exquisite touch and perception on the pitch go right back to a childhood when life, literally, was football

“It all goes back to when I was growing up in Gelsenkirchen, when I’d be playing for five hours a day. I was a football freak,” he smiles. “I loved it. I would go to school, play football and then play for my club afterwards. I’d finish school at 1pm and go to my club at 5pm. I filled those four hours in between by playing football with my friends. Then I’d go to training for another two hours or so.

“In summer it would get dark a lot later. I’d look out, see my friends playing in the monkey cage and join them. I just played football almost all day, wearing my Zinedine Zidane shirt and trying to play exactly like him. It actually got to the stage where my dad spoke to my coach at Rot-Weiss Essen and said, ‘He can’t play, he’s tired and you can see that on the pitch because yesterday he spent 10 hours playing football with his mates’.”
It’s a satisfying equation for all Arsenal fans. Ten hours a day with a ball at his feet has indeed created the perfect 10.

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