Mesut Ozil is traveling with the rest of the German national team to Turkey this week, but he's not worried about the abuse he'll likely receive when he gets there.
The German-born player, currently with Real Madrid, is ethnically Turkish, and turned down multiple offers to play for his parents' home country, choosing instead to represent Germany. Some Turkish fans won't let him hear the end of it, booing him when he appears against the Turkish team.
Mesut Ozil spoke to Kicker magazine about how he handles the fan reactions. "It is possible that people whistle, but that does not affect me. I can deal with such situations professionally and block it out."
The Real Madrid midfielder has been a poster boy for integration in Germany, receiving a Bambi award for succesful integration and being lauded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as an example of success in the Turkish immigrant community.
Mesut Ozil was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, to Turkish parents and worked his way through the German youth system, making his Bundesliga debut with Schalke at the tender age of 17. He spent several years at Werder Bremen before his star turn at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa caught the eye of Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho, who signed the now 22-year-old player last season. Ozil is a regular starter for Madrid and is considered by many to be one of the greatest young football talents in the world.
It's amazing that Mesut Ozil has, at such a young age, learned so much maturity when it comes to handling taunts from fans. It can't be easy to have thousands of spectators labeling you as a traitor, but the quiet young man handles it with grace.
"I think that the Turks are proud of me. They are proud to have a regular at Real Madrid."
Certainly many of them are. Here's hoping they outnumber the more heartless fans when Germany takes on Turkey in Istanbul on Friday.