Mesut Ozil is determined to upstage Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi, in whose honour he has been nicknamed, by leading Germany into the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals.
The 21-year-old is a candidate to win the tournament's Hyundai Best Young Player Award and aims to boss the midfield in Saturday's quarter-final clash when he squares up to the Barcelona star.
Ozil has been dubbed "Messi" by his German teammates, because of the way the Germany-born midfielder of Turkish parentage has terrorised defences since his debut in February 2009.
"Yes, many in the team call me Messi," Ozil admitted, ahead of the match at Green Point Stadium. "That's my nickname. I want to beat Messi and we want to beat Argentina as a team. I am convinced that we will beat them. So you can bet on us."
But Ozil admits Germany's young guns, who have an average age of just under 25, will have their work cut out against one of the favourites to win the FIFA World Cup in what is likely to be an explosive confrontation.
"They will be a tough side to beat and we must not be provoked," said Ozil. "I'm not afraid, I'm looking forward to the game. Argentina has a lot of world-class players in the team, against whom I want to measure myself.""
Ozil opted to play for Germany having turned down the chance to turn out for Turkey, where his parents were born, and says he has no regrets. Of the 23-strong Germany squad, 11 were either born outside of the country or have foreign roots, but Ozil inists all are proud to pull on the white shirt.
"Whether rooted in Brazil, Ghana or Poland, we all feel German," he said. "We play with passion and pride for Germany. It is an honour for all of us to wear the national jersey."