Germany and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has finally broken his silence on his controversial meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, claiming that ‘football shouldn’t be mixed with politics’ and had he declined to meet the politician, ‘it would have insulted his ancestors’.

Born in Gelsenkirchen, West Germany in 1989, Özil has starred for Die Mannschaft since 2009 and has won the DFB’s national team Player of the Year award an impressive five times.

Of course, like most of his compatriots in Joachim Loew’s setup, Ozil’s crowning moment came when Germany lifted the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Despite the aforementioned success, the 29-year-old—who is of Turkish descent—has often been criticised by media and fans in Germany for not bringing his A-game while representing his country and his meeting in May with Erdogan had many branding him a traitor on social media.

Ozil wasn’t the only one who met the controversial Turkish Premier, with Ilkay Gundogan (another German player of Turkish descent) also present at the meeting and both players were roundly booed by German fans during their warm-up classes for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

And the Arsenal midfielder sought to clear the air with a lengthy Instagram post, explaining his reasoning behind interacting with Erdogan:

Germany had a disastrous World Cup campaign in Russia, crashing out in the opening stages itself after losses to Mexico and South Korea.

Ozil was among the German few players who acquitted themselves well as he created plenty of chances for his teammates but their profligacy proved to be their bane as they exited far earlier than expected.

The 29-year-old has already linked up with his club teammates and is currently in Singapore for Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia.