Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil has lashed out at his detractors 'trying to destroy him' and has sought to clarify the controversial events that unfolded during the suspension of football.
Ozil, 31, is widely considered as one of the most talented playmakers of the modern era but has found himself on the fringes of a struggling Arsenal squad.
And he came under the microscope during the lockdown after insisting he won't leave or take a pay-cut in his reported £350,000-per-week salary.
This week he opened up to the Athletic in an attempt to share his side of the story as criticism from the Gunners supporters and questions surrounding his future became rife in the UK media.
"As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered," Ozil said.
"Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty - I would have been OK to take a bigger share - and then a cut if required, once the football and financial outlook was clearer. But we were rushed into it without proper consultation.
"For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything, to understand why it is happening and where the money is going. But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure.
"This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused. I had a baby at home and have commitments to my family here, in Turkey and in Germany - to my charities, too, and also a new project we started to support people in London that was from the heart and not for publicity."
Scroll through the gallery below to see where Ozil ranks amongst the highest-paid footballers in the world
The 2014 World Cup winner added: "People who know me know exactly how generous I am and, as far as I’m aware, I was not the only player who rejected the cut in the end, but only my name came out.
"I guess that’s because it is me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me, to make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and paint a picture that is not true.
"Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch, I don’t know. But I’m not afraid to stand up for what I feel is right - and when you see what has happened now with the jobs, maybe I was."