Arsenal's Mesut Ozil gets married with Turkish President Erdogan as best man

James Crisp
Ozil and his wife Amine Gulse during a wedding ceremony over the Bosporus in Istanbul - Pool Presidential Press Service

Mesut Ozil, the former German international footballer, has married his fiance in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.

Mr Ozil, a third-generation German, married former Miss Turkey Amine Gulse as Mr Erdogan and his wife watched on with 300 guests  during Friday’s ceremony at a luxury hotel on the banks of the Bospherous.

The Arsenal midfielder, 30, who has Turkish roots, faced questions over his loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign.

After Germany crashed out in the first round of the campaign, Mr Ozil announced his resignation from the national squad, saying: "I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose".

The 2014 World Cup winner, who won 92 caps, said that hate mail and death threats had made him “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt". German fans had previously voted him their player of the year five times since 2011.

Mr Ozil, who was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, announced his engagement to Miss Gulse, 26, who he had been dating for about a year, in June last year. It was reported the couple spent £20,500 on a hotel suite and that they made a large donation to the Turkish Red Crescent to provide a meal to 15,000 Syrian refugees to celebrate their nuptials.

The wedding pictures are sure to cause a storm in Germany, where Mr Ozil’s relationship with Mr Erdogan has come to symbolise the strained relationship between Germans and the Turkish diaspora.

Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Ozil (3rd L) and his fiance Amine Gulse (2nd L) standing next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2nd R) and his wife Emine during their wedding ceremony at the Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul.  Credit: AFP

The wedding pictures are sure to cause a storm in Germany, where Mr Ozil’s relationship with Mr Erdogan has come to symbolise the strained relationship between Germans and the Turkish diaspora.

Mr Ozil, who used to play for Werder Bremen, was criticised after announcing that the Turkish president would be his best man in March this year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation.

Helge Braun told the Bild newspaper then that it "makes one sad" that Mr Ozil would make such a move despite having already been sharply criticised by the German public over an earlier meeting with Mr Erdogan.

Mr Ozil sparked controversy when he was photographed with Mr Erdogan in May 2018, before the World Cup in Russia.

After the controversial picture, the German Football Federation (DFB) said "football and the DFB defend values which are not sufficiently respected by Mr Erdogan".

Mr Erdogan, an authoritarian leader, purged the military, police and judiciary after a coup against him failed.

His party was banned from campaigning among the Turkish community in Germany, ahead of elections in April 2018.

In March 2017, Mr Erdogan accused Angela Merkel of acting like a Nazi after ministers were banned from campaigning in Germany on a Turkish referendum on expanding his presidential powers, which he won.

Mr Erdogan often attends marriages in Turkey of celebrities, whom he particularly seeks out during election campaigns. He was best man at the weddings of two other football stars, including ex Newcastle United midfielder Emre Belözoğlu.

His presence at Mr Ozil's marriage comes ahead of a mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23, required after the original voting in March was annulled following a narrow victory for the main opposition Republican People's Party.

Mr Ozil, a former Real Madrid footballer, is considered one of the most talented attacking midfielders in the world but has endured an underwhelming season with Arsenal.