Former German international football Mesut Ozil was married in Istanbul on Friday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.
The 30-year-old Ozil, who has Turkish family roots, sparked controversy last year when he was photographed with Erdogan, raising questions about the footballer’s loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign.
The Turkish leader arrived in the early evening for Friday’s ceremony at a luxury hotel on the banks of the Bosphorus to see the former Arsenal midfielder marry his fiancee, former Miss Turkey Amine Gulse. A smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine were seen standing next to the young couple as their marriage was formalised.
After 92 appearances for Germany, including a key role in the 2014 World Cup victory, Ozil suddenly quit the national squad last July, accusing German football officials of racism.
Ozil announced in March that he had asked Erdogan to be his best man. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation. Helge Braun, a CDU told the Bild newspaper then that it “makes one sad” that Ozil would make a such a move despite having already been sharply criticised by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan.