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Ilkay Gündogan 'still proud to play for Germany'

August 28, 2018

Ilkay Gündogan has said he intends to continue to play for the national team despite the racism that he experienced after meeting with the Turkish president. He also said that Joachim Löw is the right coach for Germany.

Fußball Ilkay Gündogan Manchester City
Image: picture-alliance/Newscom/S. Bellis

In an interview published in newspapers that belong to the Funke Medien Gruppe on Tuesday, Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan said he was still available for selection for Germany despite racism he and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil experienced after having his photo taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the World Cup. Gündogan had already announced his intention to continue to play for the national team in an Instagram Q&Aearlier this month. 

"It's important to me not to throw everything away because of a difficult period that I personally have gone through," Gündogan said in the interview, which appeared in the Berliner Morgenpost and Hamburger Abendblatt among others. "I am still proud to play for Germany."

The 27-year-old Gündogan, who was born in the western German town of Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents, said that he never thought of resigning from the national team over the controversy, but felt he instead needed to face up to a very difficult situation.

Erdogan mit Gündogan
Gündogan met with the Turkish president in London last MayImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Uncredited/Presdential Press Service

Özil resignation 'a loss for the team'

Asked about the resignation of Mesut Özil from the national team over his treatment after the Erdogan photo, Gündogan said he regretted the move, which was "a loss for the team." He also credited Özil for smoothing his path into the national team, and with inspiring him to want to play for Germany in the first place. He understood the reasons behind Özil's decision, he said but added that he would have handled things differently "because I have a different personality."

Gündogan said that while both he and Özil had been victims of racism in the wake of the Erdogan controversy, this didn't mean that all people in Germany were racist.

"I have had almost only positive experiences in Germany. I want to be very clear about that," he said. "However there are people who used that photo for political reasons."

A big Joachim Löw fan

While he said the German Football Association (DFB) could have handled the fallout from the photo better than it did, Gündogan expressed his support for Joachim Löw's decision to stay on as head coach of the national team.

"I am still a big fan of Jogi Löw, and not just in terms of the sporting side of things," he said. "This applies to his character, his leadership qualities and his humanity. I can't imagine a better coach for the national team than him at this moment."

Such word of high praise will certainly be music to Löw's ears just a day before he unveils his squad for the upcoming UEFA Nations League clash with France – and his detailed analysis of what went wrong at the World Cup in Russia, and how he intends to fix it.

pfd/ftm (dpa, SID)

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