German Football Great Franz Beckenbauer Dies At 78

Legend Franz Beckenbauer, who left a unique imprint on German football as player, captain, and coach, has died at the age of 78, the German Football Association said Monday.

“Franz Beckenbauer was definitely the biggest German footballer of all time, and above all one of the greatest men who I have known,” said DFB vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke.

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Commanding Figure 

In Munich in 1945, Beckenbauer helped establish Bayern as his country’s strongest club.

Only three individuals have won the World Cup as both a player and a manager: Beckenbauer, Mario Zagallo, and Didier Deschamps. Mario Zagallo passed away on Friday at the age of 92.

He led West Germany to victory in the 1974 World Cup on home soil, defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in the Munich final. Later, he guided the team that lifted the trophy in Italia 90, defeating Argentina 1-0 in Rome.

A dominant presence both on and off the field, Beckenbauer won the 1972 and 1976 European Footballer of the Year awards.

In 13 years with Bayern, he scored 44 goals in 424 games in the Bundesliga before moving on to Hamburg and the New York Cosmos, where he ended his playing career in 1983.

In his time as a club football manager, Beckenbauer won the Bundesliga in 1994 and the French league championship in 1991 with Bayern and Marseille.

He ceased coaching in 1996, and as president of Bayern, he was able to secure a seat on the FIFA Executive Committee, the organization that oversees football.

Off the field, Beckenbauer spearheaded Germany’s victorious quest to host the 2006 World Cup, a competition that the German people still fondly remember as “das Sommermaerchen” or “The summer fairytale.”

However, the story turned sour in October 2015 when Spiegel broke a cash-for-votes scandal story.

The magazine claimed that in order to guarantee hosting of the 2006 World Cup finals, the German Football Association (DFB) purchased the votes of four Asian members of FIFA’s 24-member executive committee in 2000. Beckenbauer had remained unpunished.

In 2016 and 2017, Beckenbauer underwent heart surgery after concerning reports about his poor health started to surface.

The legendary football player declined to attend Pele’s funeral at the start of January 2023. He had skipped Germany’s 1990 world champions’ customary annual reunion in August, a few months later.

On each of these occasions, health had been cited as a reason.

The last time he appeared at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena was in August 2022, when he attended a match of Bayern Munich against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

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