Former world champion Mesut Özil ended his career as a professional footballer at the age of 34. The 92-time Germany international announced his decision on his verified Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles on Wednesday. “In the past few weeks and months, during which I have also suffered a number of injuries, it has become increasingly clear to me that it is time to leave the big football stage,” Özil wrote.

The long-time Bundesliga professional, who played for FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen during his successful career in Germany, was most recently active in Turkey with Basaksehir Istanbul. His greatest successes include winning the world championship with Germany in Rio in 2014, winning the Spanish championship with Real Madrid and winning four cups in England with Arsenal.

“It was an incredible journey full of unforgettable moments and emotions,” affirmed Özil, looking back on his 17 years as a professional footballer. He thanked his former clubs, coaches and teammates, some of whom have become friends. He also thanked his family and fans.

In the national team, Özil had shaped the German game for years. The exceptional professional was mostly deployed in attacking midfield, and he played an enormous part in the World Cup triumph. With his noisy resignation from the national team after the preliminary round at the 2018 World Cup, he had massively criticized the top of the German Football Association. Before the finals, Özil himself had been criticized for his photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Özil moved to Turkey in 2021, initially to Fenerbahce Istanbul. His contract there was terminated last summer and he had been excluded from the squad since March 2022. At Basaksehir, Özil was initially able to play again, but was then thrown back again by injury problems. He is now looking forward to the future, assured Özil.

Note: This article has been updated.