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 By Mark Lovell

Deniz Naki: I could have died after car shot at on German motorway

Deniz Naki played alongside Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng for Germany under-21s.

Former Germany under-21 international Deniz Naki has said he feared for his life after being shot at while driving on a motorway in Germany on Sunday.

Naki, a Kurd who currently plays for Turkish third-tier outfit Amed SK, was given a suspended 18-month prison sentence in April for promoting "terrorist propaganda" on social networks.

The 28-year-old, who played in the Bundesliga for St. Pauli, had been acquitted of the charge in November 2016 but the prosecution successfully appealed.

"I was driving in the right hand lane when I suddenly heard shots," Naki told Welt.

"I immediately ducked and rolled into the hard shoulder. I feared for my life."

He said he had been fortunate to escape unharmed after the attack near his birthplace in Duren, western Germany, alleging that two shots were fired from a black station wagon.

"I could have died -- it was a very near miss," he said. "One bullet struck my car window, while the other shot just missed a tyre. Luckily, I wasn't hit."

Welt reporter Ibrahim Naber posted pictures Naki had taken of his car following the shooting, showing damage from the two shots. Naber said a piece of metal lodged in the glass was a bullet.

"Being shot at shows me I am not really safe anywhere," Naki told Bento.

He holds both Turkish and German passports and had been visiting family in Germany at the time of the shooting.

An outspoken opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, he was expected to return to Turkey in the coming days.

"I am a constant target in Turkey because I express pro-Kurdish sentiment," he said.

"I suspect that the shooter was either a Turkish government agent or a radical right-wing Turk," he said.

Police in Aachen are investigating the incident and said a car had been fired at on the A4 motorway but declined to confirm Naki was the driver.

A police spokesperson told the dpa news agency that the prosecutor's office in Aachen was investigating the matter as an attempted murder.

Naki played in the same Germany under-21 side as Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Toni Kroos, Benedikt Howedes and Jerome Boateng before moving to Turkey in 2013.

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.

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