Jose Mourinho’s eyes were blazing. “You scare away from challenges, you don’t tackle. Do you really think 50 per cent are enough?” The Real Madrid boss did not just hold a firebrand speech during half time despite being up 3-1, he also launched a ferocious attack on Mesut Özil. Mourinho mocked his player and accused him of lacking stamina and determination in front of his teammates.
Özil eventually went off in a huff, thinking his time’s at the Bernabeu was up. After consulting his best mate Sergio Ramos, the ingenious midfielder realised that The Special One – who contributed a short foreword to this book – only had one goal: getting the best performance as possible, anywhere and at anytime. Özil eventually apologised to the manager who just smirked, happy that his key squad member realised what it was all about.
Mourinho’s half-time rant was a pivotal moment for Özil, so he decided to kick off his autobiography by sharing this anecdote. The German national team ace’s career is phenomenal rags to riches stuff. In “Die Magie des Spiels. Und was du brauchst, um deine Träume zu verwirklichen”, Özil and co-author Kai Psotta do not just describe his glorious spell at Real and what it feels like to face probably the best Barcelona line-up of all time, featuring Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
Özil also takes his readers back to his childhood in a shabby neighbourhood in Gelsenkirchen. He writes about being petrified thinking of going down the stairs to get his bicycle up from the rat-infested cellar. To Özil, family and football have always been the most important elements in life. His book features anecdotes about not feeling accepted at school and being forced to wear pink second-hand jumpers as his toiling parents just could not afford any decent clothes, let alone a more spacious apartment or extravagant holidays.
“Die Magie des Spiels” meticulously recounts Özil’s journey into Europe’s football elite. Praising his early mentor and friend Norbert Elgert for all his wit and invaluable tips, the 29-year-old does not shy away from openly criticising then-Schalke 04 executive Andreas Müller for letting him down and publicly branding him as greedy when the club and Özil negotiated a contract extension.
Özil, still a young chap back then, had horrifying bouts of self-doubt before getting back on track at Werder. In his book, the midfielder – who has, already as a kid, been lauded for his ability of taking on the ball in any position and any angle – shares his points of view on the delicate integration issue (“I think German but I feel Turkish”) but also discloses why it was him who called Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and not the other way round shortly ahead of his deadline-beating 50-million-Euro move to the Emirates in 2013.
Overall, “Die Magie des Spiels” is a nice read comprising more or less meaningful sports business anecdotes but also some boring stretches, especially when the 2014 world champion feels the urge to offer advices to young players and fans as far as lifestyle, attitude and work ethics are concerned.
Die Magie des Spiels. Und was du brauchst, um deine Träume zu verwirklichen
By Mesut Özil & Kai Psotta
Published by Lübbe (www.luebbe.de)