Franz Beckenbauer: A legend of German and world football


Franz Beckenbauer was a legendary figure in German and international football for decades, first as a player, then as a coach and later as an official.

Born in Munich, he joined Bayern Munich as a youth player before they became the dominant force they are today, eventually helping them to win four Bundesliga titles, the DFB Cup four times, the UEFA European Cup three times and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup once. Later in his career, he tasted Bundesliga success again with Hamburger SV and won three North American Soccer League titles with New York Cosmos.

The defender defined the role of sweeper or libero, with quick-footed movement and remarkable technique that enabled him to switch effortlessly between defence and attack. This elegant style and on-pitch leadership earned him the nickname Der Kaiser during his playing career.

It was in the unmistakable black-and-white kit of West Germany that Beckenbauer celebrated his greatest triumphs. At the age of 20, he played in the final of the FIFA World Cup 1966 as his team lost 4-2 to England after extra time. After winning the UEFA European Championship in 1972, he skippered his country to victory on home turf at the FIFA World Cup 1974 and was appointed honorary captain of the national side in 1982.

After winning 103 caps and scoring 14 goals, Franz Beckenbauer retired from international football in 1977 at the age of 31, before calling time on his club career at New York Cosmos in 1983. He won the Ballon d’Or twice and German Footballer of the Year four times, was named in the FIFA World Team of the 20th Century and received both the FIFA Order of Merit and the FIFA Presidential Award. The Federal Republic of Germany named him their Player of the Century and presented him with each of the three highest honours of the Order of Merit.

He won the Ballon d’Or twice and German Footballer of the Year four times, was named in the FIFA World Team of the 20th Century and received both the FIFA Order of Merit and the FIFA Presidential Award

After being appointed West Germany coach in 1984, Beckenbauer guided the national side to the FIFA World Cup final in Mexico two years later, where they lost 3-2 to Diego Maradona’s Argentina. When the same two teams met in the 1990 Final in Italy, Der Kaiser’s side beat their South American opponents 1-0, making him the second person after Mario Zagallo to win the FIFA World Cup as both a player and coach.

He spent two further spells as interim Bayern Munich coach during his time as President of the club between 1994 and 2009, with the club winning the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup during this period. Beckenbauer was also Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup 2006™ in Germany and served as a member of numerous FIFA committees between 1999 and 2016 including the FIFA Executive Committee (now FIFA Council), the Football Committee, the Strategy Committee, the Football Task Force 2014 and the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cups.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “A legend of German and world football, Franz Beckenbauer has achievements and triumphs which are etched in history and yet, for all his popularity, ‘Der Kaiser’ always remained modest and down to earth.

“The first captain to raise the current FIFA World Cup trophy in 1974, he would also win the tournament as Germany coach in 1990, and his passing is a painful loss for both German and world football. He will always be remembered by football supporters across the world, especially by fans of the German national team and FC Bayern München with whom he enjoyed so much success.

“A great neighbour to me during many UEFA Executive Committee meetings, he willingly shared so much of his knowledge of football. A really great person, a friend of football, a champion and a true legend, dear Franz will never be forgotten.

“My thoughts are with his family, his friends and the German Football Association, to whom I offer my deepest condolences.”


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