Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil has retired from international football after finally breaking his silence over his appearance in a photo with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan back in May.

The Arsenal man and his compatriot Ilkay Gundogan have faced plenty of criticism since the photo started making the rounds, but he has taken to Twitter to explain his actions, insisting that his being in the picture was not politically motivated.

"It was not about politics or elections," Ozil tweeted on Sunday morning. "I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.

"It was about me representing the highest office of my family's country."

Ozil's father had previously sought to explain the appearance, also urging the player to quit the German national side following the abuse he received from his own fans after Die Mannschaft crashed out of the World Cup.

He also hit out at the media, stating: "What I also find disappointing are the double standards that the media have. Lothar Matthaus (an honorary German national team captain) met with another world leader a few days back, and received almost no media criticism.


"If the media felt I should have been left out of the World Cup squad, then surely he should be stripped of his honorary captaincy?"

In his tweets on Sunday, Ozil claimed that he was simply being respectful and would have done the same with any head of government.

"During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values I think about to this day," he continued.

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"For me, it didn't matter who was president, it mattered that it was the president. Whether it had been the Turkish or German president, my actions would have been no different."

Ozil later posted a third tweet announcing his decision to retire from international football, citing racism and disrespect as the motivating factors.

"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect," he wrote.

"I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don't. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.

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"But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda. then enough is enough.

"That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted."

Ozil, who was also eligible to play for Turkey, made his debut for Germany's senior side in 2009. He helped the nation snatch third place in the World Cup the following year and was instrumental in their capture of the prestigious trophy four years later.

Despite his brilliance in midfield, the player's laid-back attitude has left him open to blame when Germany perform poorly, and it was no different after their untimely exit from the World Cup last month.

The 29-year-old leaves Germany after 92 appearances, 23 goals and 40 assists.