Arsenal forward Mesut Ozil has revealed he suffered racism when attending trials as a child in Germany.
Germany international Ozil is of Turkish descent and a practising Muslim, and the 28-year-old says he was frequently overlooked as a youngster due to his heritage.
"The older you become, the more you understand it," Ozil told the Daily Mail.
"As a kid, you'd go to have a trial at a big club. You'd be the best and there'd be a big difference between you and next person. You'd think they'll 100 per cent take you but then they'd say, 'We'd rather have him. You have to wait a week'.''
"I'd go somewhere else for a trial and have the same, where I was the best. When you've experienced that three or four times, you notice it. I'd say: "Dad, why?"
He'd say: "Mesut, it's not down to you, it's down to your background, because you're Turkish and because you're called Mesut."
"At that time, it was much more extreme. I don't know what it's like today but at the time it was very difficult as a kid."
Ozil has became a symbol of integration in Germany, showcasing the success the process can have while far-right politicians have described him as 'anti-patriotic' after the former Real Madrid man posted images of himself at Mecca.
"The hype is big, regardless of what I do,' Ozil added. "As a Muslim, you have to go there (Mecca), see it and experience it. It was a great experience for me. I'd like to do it again.
"I wanted to post about it because lots of fans had asked. I didn't do it to provoke anyone. It's what I believe in and I stand by it."
When asked about integration, Ozil insisted it was not his role to act as an ambassador in German politics:
"It's not my task," Ozil continued.
"Every person needs to try to integrate and I think the best example is the German national team.
"When you look at the team, you see lots of players from different countries. Jerome Boateng has a Ghanaian background, Sami Khedira, from Tunisia, then me, too. What's most important is that we respect one another and understand each other."