Kevin-Prince Boateng says he can sympathise with Mesut Ozil‘s decision to withdraw from international football due to racism in Germany because he’s “been there”.
The half-brother of Germany international Jerome, Berlin-born Boateng chose to play for Ghana despite representing the country of his birth at youth level after the fallout of a tackle on Michael Ballack that ended the German hero’s chances of playing at the 2010 World Cup.
Boateng, then playing for Portsmouth, fouled Chelsea‘s Ballack in the 2010 FA Cup final, prompting criticism that he was the “bad boy” of German football. That came after a 2009 comment from a German pundit that Boateng “was not able to be reintegrated into society” after a foul on Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe while playing for Borussia Dortmund.
Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, announced a temporary retirement from Germany duty after this summer’s World Cup, citing racism at the top levels of the country’s football federation, as well as in society at large, after dealing with over-the-top media criticism for posing for a photo with Turkish president Recep Erdogan.
“To be honest, I was shocked, because I never expected it,” Boateng told Bild.
“I think that it was a stress reaction. I have been there.
“I know what’s it like when everyone has a go at you, when criticism is harsh, and your family is part of it. This drags you down and you can’t get on with your life.”
Boateng has had to deal with racism plenty of times in his career, once leading his AC Milan team off in protest after being subjected to racist abuse in a 2013 friendly.
WDR1 Live, one of Germany’s biggest radio stations, honoured the Ghana international last December for his fight against racism.
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