CAIRO – Arsenal and German national team star Mesut Özil is currently in the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah before EURO 2016 kicks off early next month.
The news went public after Özil posted a photograph for himself standing in front of the sacred black stone, Daily Mail reported.
The practicing Muslim player posted the image on his Instagram account and Facebook, adding the caption: ‘#Mecca #HolyCity #SaudiArabia #Islam #Pray’.
The photo, published late on Sunday, was liked more than 1.5 million times on Facebook, received 33 thousand comments and was shared more than 63,000 times.
The former Real Madrid star made time for a brief tour of the Middle East that also involved a visit to Dubai and a charity soccer match in Jordan to benefit Syrian refugees.
Özil also paid a visit to a refugee camp in Jordan on Wednesday to play football with some of the children that live there.
The German star headed to the Zaatari Refugee Camp last week in partnership with the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), which is aiming to use football to bring a degree of normality to the everyday lives of those in the area.
The camp, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the capital Amman, is home to some 80,000 refugees from the brutal war in neighbouring Syria.
Özil was an ‘overwhelming winner’ after being named the Gunners Player of the Season in a vote by the fans.
The 27-year-old enjoyed his best season in North London and was head and shoulders above his teammates at times, scoring eight goals and assisting 19 – smashing the record for most chances created in a Premier League season.
The 27-year-old German footballer plays for British League club Arsenal and the Germany national football team.
Becoming a star from young age, Özil has been a youth national team member since 2006, and a member of the German national team since 2009.
He gained international attention during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was nominated for the Golden Ball Award, which is awarded to the tournament’s best player.
In 2013, the Berlin branch of Madame Tussaud’s museum has unveiled a waxwork version of Özil.
At the age of 24 at that time, Özil became the youngest sportsman to figure in the Berlin museum.
Özil appears wearing his German national team strip, and joins some of the country’s greatest players, including Franz Beckenbauer, Jurgen Klinsmann and former goalkeeper Oliver Khan, as well as Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel in the museum.