Football

Didi Hamann Airs Concern For 'Heart-Broken' Gundogan And Ozil Ahead Of World Cup Tie

Didi Hamann Airs Concern For 'Heart-Broken' Gundogan And Ozil Ahead Of World Cup Tie

On the day of their first World Cup game, Germany are still trying to put the controversy from Mesut Ozil and Ikay Gundogan meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan behind them.

The pair were heavily criticised in Germany last month for the meeting, given Erdogan's alleged human rights violations and as well as jailing German-Turk journalists. Both Ozil and Gundogan are of Turkish descent and met the politician while he was in London.

In the aftermath, former-German international Steffen Effenberg called for them to be cut from the squad while Gundogan was booed during the World Cup warm-up games. Joachim Löw did not start Gündoğan for today's Group F game against Mexico.

Speaking about Ozil on RTE Sport before that tie, German World Cup winner Didi Hamann explained why it was still an issue within the country.

On his day he is probably one of the best in the game. But when it is not going well his body language is sometimes questioned and how much does he fight for the cause when the chips are down. I would never question a players character. As you say, he goes about his business quietly. He does not give too many interviews, you don't hear any quotes from him. I think in this particular instance you have to say something because it has been an issue for the last three weeks leading up to the tournament. There have been two very bad performances, against Austria where they lost and against Saudi Arabia. It was just the time and somebody should have told him 'go out there. Explain yourself and then we can finish it and move on.'

Manuel Neuer actually gave an interview in Bild the Sunday paper- the biggest newspaper in Germany- giving an interview 'this is how we put the whole Ozil/Gundogan saga to bed.' That means the FA felt the need. This interview would have been given one or two days ago which is very unusual, two days before a major game. The first in the World Cup. They obviously felt the need that somebody says it. Neuer as the captain was the one. He said this is how they put it to bed. They want to move on.

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Hamann was particularly concerned with the player's welfare: "The question is how stable are the two players actually? Nobody spoke about their welfare. Their mental stability. There were reports Gundogan was heart-broken when he was booed."

Now that they are in Russia, Germany will hope to put this distraction behind them and focus on reclaiming the World Cup.

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Maurice Brosnan

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