Mesut Ozil's agent Dr. Erkut Sogut has named the former Arsenal playmaker the "Muhammad Ali of football" due to his outspokenness regarding minority groups around the world. The 33-year-old displayed this side of his personality in a recent trip to Indonesia.
The former Germany international, who now plays for Turkish giants Fenerbahçe, became a fan favorite among Gunners fans during his seven-and-a-half years at the Emirates Stadium. He later left the club on bad terms.
Ozil was a driving force in the Arsenal attack during that time, but his reported £350,000 weekly wage became a real burden for the club.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the 33-year-old's agent described a recent trip to Indonesia, where he claimed he was given a hero's welcome.
Ozil has been extremely outspoken in the past regarding minority groups. This is a trait he shares with Ali, who is generally considered to be one of the most influential sportsmen of all time.
“He is a hero because he's outspoken, because he says things that others don't say. It was like: ‘Thank you Mesut for having a voice for people in need. You are the Muhammad Ali of football."
Ozil is a German international of Turkish descent and has 87.7 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which is six million more than Arsenal.
Per The Telegraph, Arsenal distanced themselves from comments made by Ozil when the player posted criticism of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
As per a report from the Guardian in 2018, Ozil revealed that he decided to retire from international football after he received backlash for meeting Turkish president Racep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ozil's agent claims Arsenal didn't know how to handle midfielder's comments on political issues
Dr. Sogut was further asked on how the Gunners handled Ozil's strong views on Uyghur Muslims. He stated that it was a new situation for the club, but questioned why they have gone public with more political beliefs since the star's departure in January 2021.
“I would say it was new for everyone, for them as well. They were a club that was always neutral in terms of political things but they are not neutral any more, right? They gave it up.
“Now they’re outspoken about issues in the world which when it was Mesut they said: ‘We don't want to discuss things like that’. But it was a development I think for them as well as a club that things are changing and they have to adapt as well. They can't just stay neutral in certain situations. Now they have spoken up with Ukraine. They are now taking a position as a club.”