Mesut Ozil has issued an emotional farewell statement after departing Arsenal for Turkish Super Lig side Fenerbahce after signing a three-and-a-half-year deal with the club.
Ozil has been linked with the Arsenal exit door for the last two seasons, though the player himself has always hoped to stay at the club and force his way back into the first team at the Emirates.
But, after being ruled surplus to requirements, Ozil finally agreed terms on his departure, had his contract canceled by the London and on Sunday signed for Turkish side Fenerbahce, ending his spell on the sidelines in the English capital.
Ozil was one of the top earners at the Emirates, with the World Cup winner failing to make a first-team appearance since March. His initial time at the club was hugely successful as he helped Arsenal end their trophy drought by winning the FA Cup in his first season with the team.
But the $57.5 million signing failed to become a mainstay at the club, with fans and pundits alike criticizing the German international for a perceived lack of effort while on the pitch.
But, despite receiving mixed reviews during his time at the club, Ozil made clear his love for the London team as he issued a lengthy and emotional farewell message via his social media channels.
“Dear Gunners,” he began.
“Nearly 3,000 days. It feels strange to be writing this message after such a long time here in London. Since the moment I arrived, it has felt like home. I was welcomed with open arms by all the Arsenal staff, my teammates, and most importantly the incredible fans.
“I will always be grateful for the trust placed in me by Arsene Wenger in September of 2013. I’ve grown up as an adult in North London, a place I can always call home. I’ll never forget that.
“Being with Arsenal for so long has meant I’ve experienced a big mix of ups and downs. Over 250 games, 44 goals and 71 assists later, it’s time that Arsenal and I finally part ways.
“Together, we ended the club’s nine-year trophy drought, and brought long needed silverware back to the fans who deserved it.
“It is difficult for me to put into words the love I feel for this club and the fans. How could I possibly describe eight years of gratitude in a single letter?
“While I may no longer be playing for the club, I will continue to support them in every game they play. I will be a Gunner for life – no doubt about that. Now more than ever we must all be behind the team. This season is a tough one for every team in the Premier League, and that is why we must all back the current squad and staff no matter the results.
“For me, it’s been amazing to see some of the boys from Hale End coming through into the first team setup. As we all know, they are the future of our club, and I wish them every success!
“Hearing my name chanted around the Emirates will forever give me goosebumps, and the memories I’ve made putting on this jersey will stick with me for life.
“Much has been written about my time at Arsenal, especially in recent months. Arsenal is a club of class and prestige, something that I felt every time I walked onto the pitch. Players, staff and management always come and go – but the club’s values and fans will remain forever.
“The principles of class, respect and dignity must never be forgotten. It is the responsibility of every single person from the club to make sure they carry out their job in the name of these values.
“As I said, the past few months haven’t been the easiest. Like every player, I want to play every minute of football for my team. In life however, things do not always play out how we expect or want them to.
“But it is important to look for the positives in life and not the negative, which is why I try to live with no regrets and holding no grudges. Being at Arsenal was more than just football, it was about community. As much as I tried to assist on the pitch, I tried to be part of the London community as much as I could too.
“North London took me in as one of its own, and every season I embarked on a different project to bring happiness to this incredible community. Although I might be leaving North London, this will never stop.
“It might be the end of a chapter, but my connection with this amazing club will never fade. It might be goodbye for now, but it’s not goodbye forever.”
Despite being a major part of Arsene Wenger’s plans, Ozil soon found himself on the outside of the first team, looking in, under Unai Emery. And when things failed to improve for him under current boss Mikel Arteta, Ozil finally decided that moving on was the best option for his career.
His departure, described by the club as being for “football reasons” brings his chapter in London to an end, Arteta saying it was a “privilege” to play with and coach him.
“Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins,” Arteta said.
“These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce.”
Ozil’s statement drew plenty of reaction from fans, with some wishing him well and others bidding him good riddance.
One said, “When he walked off the pitch in Baku, after been subbed with 30 min to go, he lost me. Totaly unacceptable and indefensible. Deserve nothing after that.”
But the majority of responses were overwhelmingly positive.
One replied, “As far as goodbyes in football go, this has to be the best I’ve read. You bought a smile to my face when I used to watch you play the beautiful game, brought so much to the community in north London and you also bought a tear to my eye with your words when leaving.”
Another added, “All the best for your future. Things might not have worked out towards the end of your time at Arsenal, but the true fans will be grateful for what you did at our club. Some amazing assists and goals. At times you made the game look so easy. So again I say thanks and good luck.”