Big shoe to fill

The Premier League may have taken time to adjust to for Özil, but he rapidly adapted to life in the England. “I am really happy living in London – it has a real charm about it,” he says. “The city is really multicultural. There’s always something to do compared to, say, Germany where most places are shut on Sunday. In Madrid, everything was shut at midday because of the siesta, but in London everywhere is open 24/7.”

It makes sense that a German player with Turkish heritage whose religious faith is extremely important to him would be at home in a city as diverse as London. Özil credits his background as a part of the reason why he became an ambassador for The Big Shoe Initiative, an organisation that funds surgeries for children in need around the world.

In 2014, Özil donated a sizeable portion of his World Cup-winning earnings so that several Brazilian children could receive medical help. It’s easy to be cynical about footballers and charity donations, given the amount of cash high-profile athletes trouser. But for every footballer like Özil, who’s generous with his time and money, there’s plenty who aren’t.

“In my culture and upbringing, giving back to society is important,” he says. “I was consulted by a charity asking if I would be interested in setting up a foundation for young kids in need. It was really eye-opening seeing what the kids we were helping in Brazil had gone through. I was more than happy to do my part. We are not just focused on Brazil – we will also be doing charitable work around the world.”

He may have global ambitions – with Arsenal, with Germany, with his charity – but in person Özil cuts a modest, softly spoken figure. It’s a far cry from his social media presence, replete with amusingly mixed-up German-English hashtags, random emojis, dressing room selfies (they love a dressing room selfie at Arsenal) and pictures of his pet.

“I have one dog, his name is Balboa,” he says of the black pug, named for Sylvester Stallone’s boxing creation. “But I was frightened of dogs as a kid! I wanted to overcome my fear, so I decided the best way to do this would be to own a dog. I got it as a puppy, raised it and have overcome my fear. Now, I love dogs.”

It’s a stretch to say that Mesut Özil ever feared the Premier League, but the lesson is similar. Familiarity has helped him to adapt and he’s starting to love life here. Great news for Arsenal fans (and pooches). Bad news for Premier League defenders.


“Admit it, America.” 

This cover of Sport Magazine ran in May, 1984. 

“The Great One” broke into the league in 1979 with the Edmonton Oilers, and went on to score 894 goals during his 20-year career. 

He set an NHL record during the 1981-82 season when he scored 50 goals in 39 games, becoming the first player to ever score 50 in less than 50 contests. Gretzky finished the year with 92 goals, and did all of this at the ripe age of 21 years old.

For his career, Gretzky raked up 2,857 points in 1,487 regular season games. 



“After 25 minutes, I took a deep breath. I thought to myself: is this really happening?”

Mesut Özil shakes his head as he recalls last year’s World Cup semi final. “We were playing Brazil, in Brazil, and they were having a good tournament like us. We were expecting a really tough game. How could we be 3-0, 4-0 up?”

It rapidly got even better for Germany. “Going into half-time with a 5-0 lead did our confidence the world of good,” says Özil, as masterful with a herculean understatement as he is with a deft assist. “During half-time, we just looked at each other in shock. But the manager brought us to our senses. He told us not to underestimate Brazil. This is football, anything can happen. Nobody expected Sweden to come back against us but they did [from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier], so we knew we could not take our foot off the gas in the second half.”

So much for the rumour that Germany made a half-time pact to go easy on a shattered Brazil in the second half of their 7-1 win. The final, says Özil, meant even more: “Germany had a habit of just getting to semi finals, so I was so focused on winning that game. We did not come all this way to lose. I was ready to do whatever was required for the team to win.”

Great expectations

Doing whatever the team required was Özil’s focus throughout the World Cup. A surplus of central midfield talent and a pre-tournament injury to Marco Reus meant he was shifted away from his favoured ‘number 10’ position to the flanks. He did that job successfully enough to start every game of the World Cup. But understandably, he didn’t shine as he has done so often in his favoured position. For the first time, the player who top-scored with eight for Germany in the World Cup qualifiers was the subject of criticism for his national team.

Similarly at Arsenal – during his first season and a half in a new league, with a new team – there were those who questioned Özil’s worth. Perhaps it’s understandable, when a player sets such lofty standards, that they are judged in the toughest terms – and Özil has always been a feted youth talent. Germany’s U21 manager Horst Hrubesch once said of the teenager: “We have our own Messi. Our Messi is Özil.”

Thanks for the pressure, Horst. But there’s no denying that, of Germany’s golden generation of young talent, Özil was the jewel in the crown. When he sparkled as a roving attacker during Germany’s 2010 World Cup (memorably tearing England a new one in the space between Don Fabio’s rigid banks of four), he arrived at the highest level. A transfer to Real Madrid confirmed his galactico status.

The now 26-year-old Özil has set the bar so high for himself, that pundits and fans have great expectations of him. Yet he’s calmly nonplussed at some of the criticism directed at him over the past 12 months.

“If you look at my statistics, I am one of the players who covers the most distance,” he says. “Also, if you look at the stats in terms of assists and creating chances, they are all pretty good. I know some people might want me to make X-number of passes – but people often miss what goes on off the ball.

“I’m not really bothered what critics say. What’s important is what the manager and coaching staff think. I am a team player, I just care about always giving 100 per cent for the team.”


This special edition SPORT magazine from March 1960, features four elite African American athletes of that era. Simply put, these sportsmen and woman changed their respective sports. 

The 7-foot-1 Wilt Chamberlain weighed 250 pounds as a rookie before bulking up to 300 pounds while with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a game, achieving that feat against the New York Knicks in 1962. 

Willie Mays was known as the walking epitome of a five-tool player. His power was unmatched, as was his speed and defense. Arguably the best player in Major League History, the center fielder was a 24-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glove Award winner. 

Playing on the other side of the city, across the East River, Jackie Robinson was sensational in his own right for the Brooklyn Dodgers. On top of famously breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947, Robinson also stole home 19 times, good for ninth on the all-time list. 

Althea Gibson was an American tennis player and the first person to cross the color line in international professional tennis. She opened the door for countless greats to come after her, such as Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Arthur Ashe. Gibson was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the year in both 1957 and 1958. 

anonymous asked:

Ag just interviewed one of the most famous soccer players, Marcelo from Real Madrid :o Also she interviewed Leo messi, I guess she's not that un-successful like some of you told us .// Do you know how many interviews Lionel Messi everyday has? It has nothing to do with how successfull AG is, more like the fact that Messi is one of the best soccerplayers in the world. A freind of mine has already interviewed him a few times because he works for sportmagazine, its his job...

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