Franz Beckenbauer: German football legend dies aged 78

8 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

German legend Franz Beckenbauer, widely regarded as one of football’s greatest players, has died aged 78.

He won the World Cup as captain of West Germany in 1974 and lifted the trophy again as manager in 1990.

The former defender played 582 times for Bayern Munich, winning the German top flight as both as a player and a manager.

Nicknamed Der Kaiser, as a player he also won the European Championship in 1972, as well as the Ballon d’Or twice.

A statement from his family to German news agency DPA read: “It is with deep sadness that we announce that my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday, Sunday, surrounded by his family.

“We ask that you allow us to grieve in silence and refrain from asking any questions.”

Bayern, Germany’s most successful club, said: “The world of FC Bayern is no longer what it used to be – suddenly darker, quieter, poorer.”

They added that without Beckenbauer “Bayern would never have become the club it is today”.

Playing as a midfielder, Beckenbauer man-marked Sir Bobby Charlton in the 1966 World Cup final, which England won 4-2, before shifting to his iconic position as a defensive sweeper.

He also scored four goals at the 1966 World Cup, aged just 20, and won the award for the tournament’s best young player.

He went on to play 103 times for West Germany.

Franz Beckenbauer: 1966 World Cup final against England the hardest game I ever played

Beckenbauer is one of only three men to have lifted the World Cup as both a player and a manager, along with Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and France’s Didier Deschamps.

As a player at Bayern, he won four league titles and was captain for the German giants’ three European Cup wins in 1974, 1975 and 1976. He also won the Bundesliga with Hamburg in 1982.

Uli Hoeness, Bayern’s honorary president and a former team-mate, described Beckenbauer as the “greatest personality the club has ever had”.

“As a player, coach, president, person: unforgettable. Nobody will ever reach him,” Hoeness said.

“People can say they saw football in Franz Beckenbauer’s time. He was a friend to me, a unique companion – and a gift to all of us.”

Current Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann said: “For me, Franz Beckenbauer was the best footballer in German history.

“His interpretation of the role of the libero [sweeper] changed the game, this role and his friendship with the ball made him a free man.

“Franz Beckenbauer was able to float on the lawn. As a footballer, and later also as a coach, he was sublime – he stood above things. When Franz Beckenbauer entered a room, the room lit up.”

‘A unique footballer and a loveable person’

After leaving Bayern, Beckenbauer was lured to play for the New York Cosmos, where he and Pele were the poster boys of the burgeoning North American Soccer League.

He retired in 1983 and less than a year later, with no managerial experience, was named West Germany manager.

Beckenbauer led his country to the 1986 World Cup final in Mexico before winning the trophy four years later, as his team beat England in the semi-final and gaining revenge on holders Argentina in the final.

Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, said: “Very sorry to hear that Franz Beckenbauer has died.

“One of the absolute greats of our game. Der Kaiser was the most beautiful of footballers who won it all with grace and charm. RIP.”

Bayern Munich and Germany forward Thomas Muller said: “One of the greatest footballers in the club’s history has unfortunately left us.

“Rest in peace, Emperor Franz. We will never forget what you have done for football in Germany.”

Franz BeckenbauerBeckenbauer was national team manager from 1984 to 1990

Beckenbauer also managed Marseille briefly in 1990, and then had two stints in charge of Bayern, moving into football administration after leaving the role in 1996.

He became Bayern’s president, took over as vice-president of the German Football Association (DFB) in 1998 and led the German committee that won the right to host the 2006 World Cup.

He was one of four men investigated over suspected corruption linked to the tournament. In 2020, the trial ended without a verdict.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, another of Beckenbauer’s team-mates and later Bayern’s chief executive, said: “He was my captain at FC Bayern, my coach at the national team, our president at Bayern and in all of these roles he was not only successful but unique.

“As a personality, he impressed with his great respect for all people – because everyone was equal before Franz.

“German football is losing the greatest personality in its history. We will miss him more than painfully.”

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said Beckenbauer was “one of the best players our sport has ever seen”.

“With him, we are losing a unique footballer and a lovable person,” he said.

“With his lightness, his elegance and his overview, he set standards on the field.

“Franz Beckenbauer leaves a great legacy for the DFB and football as a whole.”

Football world pays tribute

Gianni Infantino, president of world football’s governing body Fifa, called Beckenbauer “a legend of German and world football”.

“Der Kaiser was a really great person, a friend of football a champion and a real legend. We will never forget you, dear Franz,” he said.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Franz Beckenbauer, one of football’s greatest ever players.

“A World Cup winner as both player and manager, Der Kaiser was as elegant as he was dominant. He will forever be remembered.”

Peter Shilton, England’s goalkeeper in the 1990 semi-final penalty shootout defeat by West Germany, said: “Very sad to hear that the great Franz Beckenbauer has sadly passed away.

“He was a fantastic player reaching world class status. RIP #Legend.”

Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund said they “mourn the loss of a great German footballer”.

“Rest in peace, Franz Beckenbauer. ‘The Kaiser’ will be remembered forever. Our thoughts are with his family and all his loved ones.”

Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish said: “It fills me with deep sadness to hear about the passing of Franz Beckenbauer, a true icon of the game.

“It was a privilege to share one of my proudest moments with him when he presented my 100th cap for Scotland. My thoughts are with him and his family at this time.”