German football star 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 attended by many statesmen and celebrities along the Bosporus in Istanbul.
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 dinner to some 15,000 Syrian refugees.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Controversy Ozil had announced in March this year that he’d asked Erdogan to be his best man.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation.
Helge Braun, a politician Germany’s leading party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the Bild newspaper then that it “makes one sad” that Ozil would make a such a move despite having already 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 last May.
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 its 2014 World Cup victory.
He said he was being blamed for Germany’s disappointing World Cup.
Ozil also said German Football Association head Reinhard Grindel failed to support him when he received hate mails, threatening phone calls, and racist comments on social media after Germany.
“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, defeated by Netherlands 3-0 and lost to France 2-1 in an away match
Germany also lost six of their last ten matches and relegated to League B in the UEFA Nations League.
Erdogan often attends marriages in Turkey of 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.