German Football Legend Franz Beckenbauer Passes Away at 78

Franz Beckenbauer, a legendary figure in German football and one of the greatest footballers of all time, has passed away at the age of 78.

He achieved the remarkable feat of winning the World Cup both as the captain of West Germany in 1974 and as the team’s manager in 1990.

Known mainly for his defensive prowess, Beckenbauer had an impressive career with Bayern Munich, appearing 582 times and securing the German top division title in both playing and managerial roles.

He was affectionately known as ‘Der Kaiser’ and, as a player, not only won the European Championship in 1972 but also received the Ballon d’Or twice.

His family released a statement through the German news agency DPA, expressing their deep sorrow over the loss of Franz Beckenbauer. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his loved ones, on Sunday.

The family requested privacy during their time of mourning and asked to refrain from any inquiries.

Bayern Munich, the most successful club in Germany, expressed their grief, stating that the club’s world has become darker, quieter, and poorer without Beckenbauer.

They emphasized Beckenbauer’s crucial role in shaping Bayern into the club it is today.

Beckenbauer, starting as a midfielder, notably marked Sir Bobby Charlton in the 1966 World Cup final, which England won. He later transitioned to his renowned role as a defensive sweeper.

At just 20 years old, he scored four goals in the 1966 World Cup and was honoured as the tournament’s best young player. He went on to play 103 times for West Germany.

Beckenbauer joins an elite group, alongside Mario Zagallo of Brazil and France’s Didier Deschamps, as one of the few who have won the World Cup both as a player and a manager. Mario Zagallo passed away last week at the age of 92.

During his time with Bayern, Beckenbauer won four league titles and led the team to three European Cup victories between 1974 and 1976. He also clinched the Bundesliga title with Hamburg in 1982.

Uli Hoeness, Bayern’s honourary president and Beckenbauer’s former teammate, hailed him as the most significant figure in the club’s history.

Hoeness remembered Beckenbauer as an unforgettable player, coach, president, and person, saying no one could ever match his achievements. He spoke of Beckenbauer as a friend and a unique companion, describing him as a gift to everyone.

After leaving Bayern, Beckenbauer joined the New York Cosmos, where he became a key figure alongside Pele in promoting the North American Soccer League.

He retired in 1983 and quickly transitioned to management, taking over the West Germany national team with no prior experience.

Under his leadership, West Germany reached the 1986 World Cup final and then triumphed in the 1990 edition, defeating England in the semi-final and Argentina in the final.

Gary Lineker, a former England striker who competed in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, expressed his condolences, praising Beckenbauer as one of the game’s greats. He remembered Beckenbauer for his elegant and graceful style on the field.

Beckenbauer also had a brief stint managing Marseille in 1990 and later returned to Bayern for two periods. He moved into football administration after his last coaching role in 1996.

He served as Bayern’s president, became vice-president of the German Football Association (DFB) in 1998, and led the committee that secured Germany’s hosting of the 2006 World Cup.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, another former teammate and later executive at Bayern, reflected on Beckenbauer’s diverse roles at the club, emphasizing his respect for everyone and his unparalleled impact on German football.

Bernd Neuendorf, the DFB president, recognized Beckenbauer as one of the finest players the sport has ever seen, praising his elegance, overview, and influence on and off the field.