President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he had backed Mesut Ozil's decision to quit the German national team on racism grounds in a telephone call with the Turkish-origin football star, wading into a controversy that caused uproar in Germany.
Ozil stunned football at the weekend by announcing he planned never to play again for the national team after criticism he deemed to be racist of a meeting with Erdogan two months ago.
His move has divided opinion in Germany but received warm applause in Turkey, whose government has long campaigned against what Ankara sees as rising Islamophobia in Europe.
"Last night I spoke to Mesut. His attitude in the statement is completely patriotic, it is absolutely praiseworthy behaviour," Erdogan said, quoted by state news agency Anadolu.