As with several of his Germany teammates, Mesut Ozil burst on to the international scene at the 2010 World Cup where his creativity and invention earned the twinkle-toed Werder Bremen midfielder a nomination for the Golden Ball award. Suitably impressed with what they had witnessed, the mighty Real Madrid made its move and Ozil's career has skyrocketed.
At international level, Ozil has continued to inspire his Germany side to outstanding, free-flowing attacking performances. The Madrid star contributed five goals to Germany's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, but it is his dynamic link-up play with the likes of Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze that really sets the tone for this current Germany side. This is a side of pace, vision and movement in attacking areas and one that many consider capable of emerging from the tournament with the ultimate prize.
For Real Madrid it has been a similar story, with the German going from strength-to-strength in his link-up play as a part of one of football's best attacking units. Some of Ozil's skills this season have been nothing short of exquisite, with a selection of flicks, tricks and exquisite passing to rival any of the world's best in his position. Starting from either flank or a central berth, Ozil is always able to find an avenue to influence the game, wandering freely from his starting position into areas where he can receive the ball and make an impact.
There is a supreme intelligence to Ozil's game, with his movement and vision central to everything he has achieved. Signed to give Real Madrid's attack more of a delicate touch, Ozil goes about his business with a grace and style similar to many of the legendary players that the Santiago Bernabeu has come to worship over the years. For these very reasons, Ozil has quickly become a fan favorite at a club that has come to appreciate true talent.
European football is currently blessed with the type of creative playmakers that were for a long time considered the domain of South America. Alongside the likes of David Silva, Mario Gotze and Eden Hazard, Ozil is leading the charge. For Germany to win this summer Ozil will need to be close to his best for the latter stages of the tournament and if he is, the German side will be a pleasure to watch regardless of where it finishes.
Expert's take: Ozil is a wizard in midfield, with great technique when the ball is at his feet. His passing and vision will split any defense wide open, such is his awareness of where his teammates are on the field at all times. -- Tommy Smyth
Stats That Matter:
• First in 2011-12 La Liga with 103 scoring chances created for Real Madrid
• Seven assists in Euro 2012 qualifying, tied with Sweden’s Kim Kallstrom for first overall
• Scored five goals during qualifying and 14 of his 20 shots were on goal
• Eight goals in 31 appearances for Germany since his debut in 2009 (through May 18)
• Germany’s record with Özil in the lineup is 22-5-4 (through May 18)