Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect in a statement on Twitter, saying he feels “unwanted” by the national team.
The Arsenal man was fiercely criticised as Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage, while a photograph he posed for with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the tournament led to his loyalty to Joachim Low’s side being questioned.
Ozil, who is of mixed German and Turkish heritage, said on Sunday night that he and his family had received hate mail, threatening phone calls and social media abuse.
In a statement on Twitter he wrote: “The treatment I have received from the DFB (German Football Association) and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.
“I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
III / III pic.twitter.com/c8aTzYOhWU
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
Former Spain striker Fernando Torres made his debut for Japan’s Sagan Tosu but it wasn’t the dream start he expected as his new side fell to a 1-0 defeat.
The 34-year-old made a shock move to Asia after ending his association with Atletico Madrid and despite coming off the bench, he failed to make an impression as Sagan Tosu lost 1-0 to Vegalta Sendai.
Watch our video below on Torres’ debut:
The 2010 champions were dumped out of the World Cup finals by hosts Russia in the last 16 earlier this month, but Enrique is convinced they they can return to the days when they reached the pinnacle of the international game and claimed back-to-back European Championship titles.
Speaking as he was formally unveiled at a press conference at the Spanish Football Federation’s headquarters on Thursday, the 48-year-old said: “I’m not a fan of the word failure, but the results haven’t been good. But we owe these players a lot.
“There won’t be a revolution but an evolution. There are players coming through who we need to give confidence and we have to be as fair as possible to everyone.”
Former Barcelona boss Enrique, who won 62 caps for Spain, has been handed the task of re-establishing the nation as a power following the departure of Julen Lopetegui for Real Madrid.
Lopetegui was shown the door on the eve of the World Cup finals after it was announced he was to take over at the Bernabeu Stadium after the tournament, and it was Fernando Hierro who took to the dug-out in Russia.
Asked what he could do to improve the situation he has inherited from the pair, Enrique replied: “The line that separates success from failure is very fine and they did an excellent job.
“Despite the players we have, we have now gone three major tournaments without winning and that shows how difficult it is to win one.
“We will look at all cases individually and analyse what is best for the future of the national team.”
Enrique’s appointment comes at a time when two of his country’s most reliable and successful players, defender Gerard Pique and midfielder Andres Iniesta, are to step away from international football.
Pique announced in 2016 that this year’s World Cup finals would be his last tournament, while 34-year-old Iniesta has indicated he has played his final game for Spain as he prepares to head for Japan and a new phase in his club career.
Asked if he would attempt to persuade Pique to change his mind, the manager replied: “He’s already stated his position in that respect. We have to look at all cases individually.
“Pique has demonstrated his performance levels and I’d like to have everyone available, but we have to look at each player and respect their decisions. We’ll see.”
On former Barcelona superstar Iniesta, he added: “He has been like a little brother to me. I played alongside him and I coached him.
“If he has made the decision, it has to be respected. He is embarking on a new adventure and I understand him.”
In the meantime, Enrique will concentrate on his own adventure, one of which he admits he has long dreamed.
He said: “As a coach, I have always said that I would like to be in charge of the national side.”