Germany's rising star Mesut Oezil, tipped by coach Joachim Low as a future world-class player, insists that the three-time champions have a genuine chance of winning a fourth FIFA World Cup™.
Barely known outside of Germany and Turkey before the tournament, 21-year-old Werder Bremen midfielder Oezil played a key role in orchestrating his side's impressive 4-0 thrashing of Australia in Durban on Sunday.
Germany's second Group D game is against Serbia on Friday in Port Elizabeth and a victory would almost guarantee them a place in the knock-out phase, but Oezil says the goal for a team not originally among the favourites is to seal a fourth title. "Our dream is to win the title, that is why we are here," said Oezil, who was born to Turkish parents in the industrial German city of Gelsenkirchen.
Germany lost captain Michael Ballack to an ankle injury before the tournament even started, but Oezil's performance suggested the national side can plug the gap with the next generation of talent.
We have always sought an out-and-out Number Ten and now we have found one.
"We have always sought an out-and-out Number Ten and now we have found one," said striker Miroslav Klose. "Mesut has made the position his own for Germany. He is an absolute bonus for us."
Low has adopted a three-man attacking midfield playing behind a lone striker and Oezil's ability to run at defences and provide probing passes makes him the ace in Germany's pack.
"He is a player that fits perfectly with my ideas," said Low. "He plays a very high level, he can win the ball easily and then produce a telling shot. He is a playmaker and can produce some passes which split defences."
But while Oezil is being courted by the German media as the country's new footballing hero after just 11 appearances for the national side, Low has warned the player to keep his feet on the ground. "To be a world-class player requires a lot of development and the need to be consistent over several years," said Low. "But Mesut, no doubt, has what it takes."
Even England's players, who could face Germany as early as the second round, were quick to notice Oezil's creative quality in the demolition of Australia. "Right from the first two touches you could tell he had a bit of class with his left foot," defender Jamie Carragher said. "You could tell straight away he is a talented player."
Oezil's contract at Bremen runs until 2011, but while Europe's top clubs have no doubt been alerted to his rapid progress, he is focused on the matter in hand. "I am under contract until 2011, but all that interests me now is the World Cup, because as a team we have goals. That is all that matters," he said.