Mesut Özil, a World Cup-winning midfielder with Germany, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 34. 

The former Real Madrid and Arsenal playmaker was a key member of Germany's World Cup-winning side in Brazil in 2014. He retired from the squad in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about immigration and after a backlash over a photograph taken with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced 'racism and disrespect' over his Turkish ancestry.

'I've had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity,' Özil, who most recently played for Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, said in a statement on Instagram and Twitter. 'But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it's become more and more clear that it's time to leave the big stage of football.'

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