Germany's new midfield sensation Mesut Oezil has been the pick of the German youngsters at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa so far. The 21 year old attacking midfielder is of Turkish descent and was born in Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr valley of western Germany.
And I remember something a good friend of mine told me last winter after a great performance from Oezil for his club SV Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga, Oezil reminds him of the young Zinedine Zidane in his playing days for Girondins de Bordeaux. I then thought a comparison to big for such a young player, but having watched more and more of Oezil over the last few months for his club and country I have to agree more and more.
Surely players shouldn't be compared, even less when they are from different generations but there are things which does remind one of the great Zizou when one sees Oezil play these days. But Oezil is at the start of a career which can go a long way.
The similarities between Oezil and Zidane starts with their background. Both players are from immigrant communities, born and brought up in cities with large immigrant populations and are both also practising Muslims.
Both these players are rather calm and quiet, but can explode on the field. They both are creative players in midfield who can do something special, especially on days when things don't always seem to work for them and their team. The best example is Oezil's brilliant goal against Ghana last night. Oezil tried his best to create chances for his team, look for the open spaces and in the first half should have given his team the lead when he only had the keeper Richard Kingson to beat. He didn't score then, but got his team the win later on at the hour mark.
Zidane went on to become one of the best players of all times, Oezil has a long journey ahead of him in the coming years.
But there is one difference. Zidane was a hot-headed player, while Oezil so far in his career has been known as a cool headed player.
After the World Cup Oezil will have to decide where his future lies. He still has a contract with Werder Bremen, but he has interesting offers from Premier League clubs FC Arsenal, Manchester City and now also FC Chelsea; while clubs in Spain and Italy will also look at him if he is on the market. But maybe it would most make sense if he proves himself another year in the Bundesliga before moving on to bigger clubs with better pay packages.
And with Germany still in the World Cup, one will have to see if Oezil is one of the young stars of the tournament or maybe even more if Germany can reach far in South Africa.