Arsenal star Mesut Özil is an idol for young Turkish players, especially those born outside Turkey according to Trabzonspor winger Sefa Yılmaz.
“I used to look up to Zidane but now my idol is Mesut Özil, he is a great role model for Turkish players, especially those born outside Turkey,” Yılmaz told AA.
The 25-year-old winger was born in Germany and like Özil and also is of Turkish descent.
The Turkish international had the option to represent both his country of birth and the Crescent-Stars at international level.
Players of Turkish origin in Germany can represent both their country of birth and the Crescent-Stars at international level.
These players make up the part of the – estimates vary from 2.5 to 3.5 million – Turkish community that form the largest ethnic minority in Germany. Many are descendants of the guest workers who arrived when large-scale migration of Turkish citizens to West Germany was encouraged during the 1960s and 1970s.
A child born to Turkish parents in Germany was still considered a Turkish citizen under former citizenship laws. The rule changed in 2000 and gave citizenship by birth if one parent possesses German citizenship or if one parent has been a legal resident in Germany for eight years.
The Turkish national team has several players born outside Turkey. Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Ömer Toprak, Nuri Şahin, Gökhan Töre, Olcay Şahan and Mehmet Ekici were all born in German, Mevlüt Erdinç was born in France and Oğuzhan Özyakup was born in the Netherlands.