October 23, 2021

Why is Ozil wearing No. 67 at Fenerbahce?

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The former Arsenal midfielder had an unusual shirt choice at his new club, but there is a connection to his family’s history

Mesut Ozil’s long-awaited Arsenal departure finally was confirmed on Sunday, with the now-former Gunners star making the move to Turkey to join boyhood club Fenerbahce.

Having been excluded from Arsenal’s Premier League squad, Ozil and the Gunners agreed to terminate the midfielder’s £350,000-a-week contract six months early, paving the way for his move to Turkey.

As he left the Emirates, Ozil said he would be a “Gunner for life”, adding that it was not a permanent goodbye to what he called “a club of class and prestige”.

Now, though, Ozil has joined a club he has supported for years, Fenerbahce, taking a pay cut to do so.

Ozil is set to earn €3 million (£2.5m/$3.5m) a year at Fenerbahce after being paid an annual salary of €16m (£14m/$19m) at Arsenal.

His salary sacrifice paved the way to a club close to his heart, and Ozil says he is embracing the pressure that comes with playing for that club.

“There is always pressure on a football player. I always played in big clubs, and there was always pressure,” he said at his unveiling.

“Fenerbahce is also a big club and I know there will be pressure here. This is a club I love very much. I will do my best. I hope everything will be fine.”

At Wednesday’s unveiling, Ozil revealed a new shirt number, 67, having previously been Arsenal’s No. 10.

The No. 67 shirt is certainly far from a traditional choice, but it was one made due to a personal connection for Ozil.

Why did Ozil choose the No. 67 shirt?

Ozil’s fondness for the number appears to stem from the first two digits of the postal code of his family’s hometown of Zonguldak in Turkey.

The 32-year-old midfielder was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and is a third-generation Turkish-German.

As a result of his upbringing, Ozil grew up supporting Fenerbahce, while his boyhood hero was the club’s legendary forward Ridvan Dilmen.

Ozil’s family hails from Hışıroğlu, a village in the district that has the postal code 67802.

And, despite more traditional numbers like 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24 being available, Ozil appears to have paid tribute to his family’s home via his shirt number.

Prior to taking the shirt, Ozil hinted that he could claim 67 as his own with a tweet.

The number isn’t the highest one in the squad, though, with No. 71 Ismail Yuksek, No. 77 Gokhan Gonul, No. 88 Caner Erkin and No. 99 Kemal Ademi all having higher shirt numbers.