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  • Writer's pictureKai Abbott

The Magic of the Özil Bounce

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

In football’s long professional history, few players have been able to reach such a status of talent and success able to “trademark” a specific skill move or technique. From the late Johan Cruyff’s Cruyff turn, and former players like Ronaldinho’s elastico, or Antonin Panenka’s panenka shot, demonstrate these players' influence on the game, based on how these moves have become replicated many times by other players. However, some of these skills which have been created, are simply unreplicatable. Enter, the German Messi, “der neue Diego Maradona,” Nemo, or as most fans call him, Mesut Özil, and his infamous bit of skill, called the Özil bounce.

The skill, also referred to as a cut shot, is essentially a variant of a looping chip of the ball, which spends less time in the air, and has an absurd amount of topspin. At first glance, it may just seem like a simple finish which most attackers can do, though, through further analysis, one can see that this skill requires a considerable amount of technique. By watching some of his bounce shot goals in slow motion, Özil seems to kick down on the ball, instead of lifting from the bottom like a normal chip shot. By using this technique, the ball is hit into the ground, so when it bounces back up, it can move faster and spin much more than your average chip shot, which is seen so often in the Premier League. As former Arsenal striker Ian Wright described it a few seasons ago, "... [h]e bounces it on purpose. He did it against Huddersfield and he kicked down on it against Bournemouth. Instead of chipping it over a keeper he bounces it over him.”

Özil’s infamous shot versus Bournemeth in the 2018/19 Premier League Season (Credits: The Sun)

This technique does not only offer benefits to the chip shot, by having more speed and topspin, but also can be easily disguised, once a player is through on goal. Due to the use of the inside of the foot on this shot, it may appear to a keeper that a player like Özil may simply be going for a finesse shot. As Özil himself puts it, “... don't forget that when the keepers run towards you they'll jump in one direction, so if you do this then they won’t expect it."

Furthermore, with all of the topspin and speed on the ball, covering defenders can rarely bail out their goalkeepers when Özil uses this skill, because instead of having backspin like any normal chip, the Özil bounce is almost unstoppable.

Additionally, this technique also comes handy when creating chances, and not only finishing them. In a match against Denmark in the 2012 Euro, Mesut Özil bisected two defenders to kick an inch perfect ball towards Sami Khedira, which for defenders, was at an extremely awkward height. Because the ball travels so low, it prevents defenders from heading the ball away, and also comes at shoulder height, making it very easy to handball.

Özil celebrating a goal after using his technique at his new club, Fenerbahce in Turkey (Credits: Planet Football)

All of these factors as to why Özil does this shot, could be wrong for what it matters, because Özil is known to be a showboater, like when the German plays keepy-up with his chewing gum in warm-ups. Though, with all of the benefits which this technique offers, there is no way that Özil does his infamous shot for such unnecessary reasons. If so, why then would he create a skill which has never been done before?

Just two seasons ago, Özil’s reign at Arsenal came to a disappointing end, after his removal from the squad due to political comments on the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China. During his time at Real Madrid or Arsenal, Özil did things on the pitch that other players and fans could only dream of, with such composure, ease, skill. Özi’s legacy on the Premier League will most likely never fade, and neither will his skill and technique to which he graced the game with. To this day, no other player has been able to replicate the Özil bounce to the degree of efficiency to which Özil is capable of, demonstrating the true magic behind the Özil bounce.

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