Mesut Ozil has heaped praised on Arsenal team-mate Sead Kolasinac for the bravery he showed when the Gunners pair were victims of an attempted carjacking in Hampstead earlier this year.
Ozil, the midfielder, also revealed his wife was left mentally scarred by the incident and struggled to deal with staying in London in the weeks following the attack.
On the eve of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Ozil and Kolasinac were targeted by knife-wielding carjackers, who approached the German’s Mercedes G-Class SUV on mopeds.
They attempted to steal the Arsenal duo’s watches but were chased off by Kolasinac, who stood up to the thugs and was filmed attacking one of the individuals.
Earlier this month, a 30-year-old male pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of Ozil and Kolasinac, while a second individual, Jordan Northover, has also been charged over the incident.
And Ozil has finally opened up about the incident in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic.
“I drove from my house to Sead’s,” Ozil said. “He was outside and we spoke. My wife was sitting next to me. Then these guys came. We were looking at each other for 10-15 seconds. We were thinking maybe they want to take a picture or something — that’s happened before. Then we noticed that they had a weapon and something was going wrong. They obviously saw the big car and because Sead had just handed me something, they must have noticed he was wearing an expensive watch.
“They told him directly, ‘Give us your watch!’
“Sead’s reaction was really, really brave because he attacked one of the attackers. The second one was in front of my car on his moped so I couldn’t drive.
“We were newly wed and I was scared about my wife. I was scared about Sead. I wasn’t thinking about myself. I was worried they were going to open my wife’s door and they tried, so I reached across her to keep it closed.
“I saw one chance to drive. If they got to my wife, something terrible might have happened to her. It was going so quickly that you can’t think properly.
“I drove a little bit forwards and backwards to try and get the moped away. I told Sead, “Jump in! Jump in!”, and thankfully he did. The second guy tried again to get in. Sead closed the door and I made a U-turn. There was a construction site there and they took bricks and stones to throw at us.
“I started driving but they followed. I was driving very fast but they kept coming close on the moped. I tried to move the car, block them, escape, but each time they would be there. My wife was extremely scared.
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“Nothing happened to us, that’s the most important thing. We were worried these guys had been targeting us, but the police said they found them and a few hours earlier, they tried to rob other people nearby in a similar way.”
No one was physically hurt in the incident, though Ozil’s wife was left shaken and her struggles mentally affected the German playmaker as well.
He continues: “My wife wanted to get away immediately. She didn’t feel safe. Even if I let our dogs into the garden and went out with them she would say, ‘Come in, come in, stay in the house!’. She was very concerned.
“Something like this has never happened to us before. She told me – and Sead’s wife told him – let’s go back to our families, to be safe and let everything calm down. It was a bad couple of weeks but never made me want to leave London permanently. Now, even for my wife, everything is OK.
“I returned to training and my football was fine, but my mind was always at home with my wife. She was alone in our house and you never know what happens. So I was thinking, ‘OK, just train and go back to your wife’.”
Ozil and Kolasinac were not involved in Arsenal’s opening weekend defeat of Newcastle due to the incident, though they have since returned to Unai Emery’s first-team.
However, Ozil remains a relative outcast from the Gunners squad, making only two appearances in all competitions this season amid doubts over his future in north London.