German footballer Mesut Ozil has tied the knot, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.
The Turkish-German midfielder married his fiance, actress and model Amine Gulse, on Friday at a ceremony along the Bosporus in Istanbul that was attended by many statesmen and celebrities.
Photos of the wedding showed a smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine standing next to the couple as their marriage was formalised.
Ozil and Gulse, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2014, also made a hefty donation to the Turkish Red Crescent to provide a meal to some 15,000 Syrian refugees.
Ozil announced in March this year that he had asked Erdogan to be his best man.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation.
Helge Braun of Germany’s leading party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Bild newspaper at the time that it “makes one sad” that Ozil would make such a move despite having been sharply criticised by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan.
The footballer whipped up a political storm when he was pictured alongside Erdogan in May 2018. Criticism intensified after Germany crashed out of the first round of the World Cup in Russia.
After the summer defeat, Ozil posted a lengthy statement announcing his resignation from the national team and accusing German football officials of racism.
Ozil, who now plays for Arsenal, had made 92 appearances for Germany and played a key role in their 2014 World Cup victory.
He said he was being blamed for Germany’s disappointing World Cup performance.
Ozil also said the German Football Association head, Reinhard Grindel, failed to support him when he received hate mail, threatening phone calls, and racist comments on social media after Germany left the World Cup.
“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil said, adding that despite his successful history with the team, the way he was treated made him “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.
Without Ozil, Germany started their UEFA Nations League journey with three consecutive bad results. They drew with France 0-0 at home, were defeated by the Netherlands 3-0 and by France 1-2 in an away match.
Germany also lost six of their last 10 matches and were relegated to League B in the UEFA Nations League.
Erdogan often attends marriages of Turkish celebrities, whom he particularly seeks out during election campaigns.
His presence at 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.