Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil returned home to the environment where he honed his mercurial talents in Gelsenkirchen, a place which has been nicknamed the ‘Monkey Cage’.
With no respite during matches, Ozil would often play with the older generation in his neighbourhood, and the physical demands during the game helped him develop.
After joining us in 2013, Ozil spoke freely about his memories of the concrete pitch from his hometown, and noted its relentless nature as a positive aspect to its design.
“While playing in the cage there were bars all around, which meant there was no ‘out’ and no corners and therefore, no break,” our German wizard told Sky Sports before his home debut two years ago.
“I often had to play against my friends or my brother’s friends who were five or six years older and this definitely helped me to improve.”
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Ozil posted a recent image on his Instagram page of himself standing at his childhood playground – which still stands to this day – and its intimidating nature is immediately visible.
Following his first full pre-season with us since he joined, Ozil has been tipped to finally prove his worth, and his performances in the last few games have been encouraging.
The 26-year-old looks more eager to make the difference and hopefully he can play a big part in a potential title challenge.
Check out Ozil’s nostalgic post below.