Mesut, 17 – The Discovery of a Once in a Lifetime Talent

Renowned filmmaker Aljoscha Pause has covered various hot-button issues in football and made award-winning films. In 2006 he attended a youth football tournament featuring some of the biggest clubs from around the world to document some of the promising young crop of players.  What was initially planned as a feature on young talent in Germany turned its focus on a very special player, a 17-year-old named Mesut Özil.  In a mini documentary released at the International Football Film Festival in Berlin this year, we get a fascinating insight into the start of the career of a brilliant young footballer.

In attendance at the tournament was current national team coach Jogi Löw, former international Uli Stielike, Guido Buchwald and various other coaches from around the country.  This took place just as German football academies were beginning to churn out young players that could realistically make the jump from youth to senior football, something that had been a problem for years before.  Present on that day were players like Marcel Schmelzer, Benedikt Höwedes, Stefan Mielitz to name a few, but one in particular stood out above everyone else, Mesut Özil.

Stielike made it a point to keep a keen eye on the youngster who was already being regarded as a very special talent within Schalke but was still awaiting his German passport.  It was feared that Özil could end up like Sahin, another talented young player who was born and raised in Germany but ultimately decided to play for Turkey.  And those who came to see Schalke’s No. 11 were not disappointed.

Özil was the star of the tournament.  Schalke beat Werder Bremen in the semifinals thanks to a strong showing from Mesut before meeting Basel in the final.  It was the first in young Özil’s career but he handled it with the ease with which we have become accustomed to over the last couple of years.  Özil was also the leading goalscorer with five goals.  A few months after the tournament, Özil made his first team debut, and the rest, as they say, is history

 Mesut, 17 by Aljoscha Pause:


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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

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