Arsenal FC midfielder Mesut zil has spoken of his pride at being a role model for the next generation of multicultural footballers in Germany, as well as the importance of integration to create a harmonious environment around a football team

The former Real Madrid star is a third-generation Turkish-German, and is one of many footballers hailing from a Turkish background to represent Die Mannschaft. Recently, the Arsenal FC star spoke to the club about integration, as well as how his personality allows him to be open-minded about new experiences.

zil has come in for a lot of criticism for his performance on the pitch against West Ham United on Sunday in the Gunners’ opening-day defeat, but undoubtedly deserves a lot of praise for his efforts off the pitch. The German international even won Germany’s Bambi award in 2010 in the ‘Integration’ category for ‘being a prime example of successful integration into German society’.

Mesut zil proud to be a role model

The Arsenal FC star has praised the German national team and hailed it as an ideal example of successful integration, with players from different cultural backgrounds getting together for a common cause.

Speaking to the official Arsenal FC website . , zil said: “Ia m very proud but our task is to play football. Integration is a difficult topic. The best example is the German national team because lots of people from other cultures come together and play with respect. Thata s how it should be in general life.

a You should be open with one another, you should treat each other with respect. If that happened, things would look different, also in general. Ia m the sort of person who can integrate quickly.

“Ia m a normal person and people who know me know that Ia m quite quiet and just like doing my thing. That was the case here, with the German national team and in my youth.

a For example, when I experienced things changing, like if I changed class at school, it wasna t the case that I would worry about how I would cope not knowing anyone, it was the opposite. I was and still am very open when I meet people.”

Modern football a very multicultural environment

Given the influx of foreign players in the English Premier League over the years – something that has undoubtedly helped increase its popularity exponentially – it would be safe to say that Premier League clubs are extremely multicultural, with players hailing from all parts of the world.

Arsenal FC record signing Mesut zil – who joined the Gunners after a spell in Spain with Real Madrid – says that is certainly true of his current club.

a It was like that at Arsenal too,” the German international said. “When I joined the club, I knew some players from playing alongside them in the national team or at Werder Bremen. But in general, I enjoy being able to meet new people and experience new cultures.

a I lived in Spain and got to know the wonderful culture and people there. Now Ia m in England, where Ia m learning the language and the culture.

a I love what I do and Ia m thankful that football helps me develop myself by learning new languages and different cultures. Ia m proud of that.a