German football legend Franz Beckenbauer dies aged 78

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer dies aged 78

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.

Beckenbauer, who was primarily a defender, played 582 times for Bayern Munich and won 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.

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.

Zagallo died last week at the age of 92.

As a player at Bayern, Beckenbauer 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.”

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.”

Source: BBC

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