Franz Beckenbauer passed away at the age of 78. He was a beloved figure in Germany known for his charisma and achievements as both a player and coach, winning the World Cup.
The passing of Beckenbauer was initially reported by his family in a statement to the German news agency dpa and later verified by the German soccer federation.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the peaceful passing of my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, while he slept yesterday, Sunday. He was surrounded by his family,” stated the family. “We kindly request privacy during this time of mourning and ask to be spared from any inquiries.”
Berlin Wall fell.
“The ‘Kaiser’ was among the most exceptional players in our sport’s history,” stated Bernd Neuendorf, president of the German soccer federation. “His grace, finesse, and foresight established a benchmark on the field. Franz Beckenbauer’s departure leaves an impressive legacy for the federation and the sport as a whole.”
Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, expressed on social media that Beckenbauer has been a source of inspiration for generations of German soccer fans. He will be greatly missed.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, referred to Beckenbauer as “a renowned sports icon extending beyond the realm of football.”
According to a statement shared on social media, Bach described the individual as a trusted and devoted friend for over 40 years, someone who could be counted on at all times.
The passing of Beckenbauer occurred only 48 hours after the news of Mario Zagallo’s death. Zagallo, a Brazilian who was the first individual to win the World Cup as both a player and coach, passed away at the age of 92. The only other person to accomplish this feat is Didier Deschamps of France.
Beckenbauer played a crucial role in securing the 2006 World Cup for Germany, however his reputation was later questioned due to accusations of using bribery to win the hosting rights. He denied any wrongdoing.
Beckenbauer, the leader of the World Cup organizing committee, stated in his final column for the tabloid Bild in 2016 that they did not intend to bribe anyone and they did not engage in bribery.
In the year in question, Beckenbauer and three other committee members were accused by Swiss prosecutors of possible fraud involving large sums of money related to the 2006 World Cup and FIFA. However, due to health issues, Beckenbauer was not charged in 2019 and the case was ultimately dismissed in 2020 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, which was affected by delays in the court system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2014, FIFA’s ethics committee temporarily banned Beckenbauer from participating in any football-related activities for not cooperating with prosecutor Michael Garcia’s investigation into accusations of corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup voting process. However, the ban was lifted during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Beckenbauer agreed to cooperate.
Beckenbauer’s reputation was tarnished in the eyes of the public for the very first time due to the accusations. Prior to this, he had appeared to be flawless and could do no wrong. He was adored by the German people.
Former Bayern Munich teammate Paul Breitner once stated that Beckenbauer went against the expectations of what a German should do.
After getting divorced, he abandoned his children and ran away with his girlfriend. However, he ran into issues with tax collectors and ultimately ended up leaving his girlfriend once more.
According to Breitner, despite any wrongdoings, he is pardoned due to his kind nature, optimistic attitude, and willingness to assist others. He does not hide his flaws or cover up his errors.
Born to a postal worker in the working-class area of Giesing in Munich, Beckenbauer rose to become one of the most renowned players in the sport, with a career that spanned the late 1970s and early 1980s and included time with the New York Cosmos in the United States.
Born on Sept. 11, 1945, months after Germany’s surrender in World War II, Beckenbauer studied to become an insurance salesman but he signed his first professional contract with Bayern when he was 18.
Beckenbauer stated in a 2010 interview with the Sueddeutsche newspaper magazine that he did not have aspirations to become a global superstar in Giesing. He saw football as a means of escape and in hindsight, he can say that his life unfolded exactly as he had envisioned. He felt that he had a flawless life.
Beckenbauer revolutionized the “libero” position by creating a free-roaming defender who would frequently push forward to attack the opposing team’s goal. This role has since become obsolete in modern football and was rarely used before his time.
Beckenbauer, a stylish and composed player known for his foresight, led the Bayern Munich team as captain during their three consecutive European Cup victories from 1974 to 1976.
During his debut in the 1966 World Cup, Beckenbauer, playing for West Germany, was assigned to defend against England’s star player Bobby Charlton. Despite his efforts, West Germany ultimately lost to the host team, England, in the final match.
After four years, Germany lost a significant semifinal match against Italy while the player’s arm was immobilized due to a shoulder injury.
In 1974, Beckenbauer led West Germany to victory as captain while playing on home turf.
In 1977, Beckenbauer departed Bayern for New York and later expressed fond memories of his time in the United States.
Beckenbauer stated that moving from Munich-Giesing to New York City was a significant leap.
According to Beckenbauer, the key factor that convinced him to join the Cosmos was the helicopter journey arranged by club executives, which took him from the Pan Am Building rooftop in Manhattan to the Giants’ stadium in New Jersey.
“At the time, it was the most advanced stadium in the world, complete with VIP boxes, a luxury not yet seen in Europe. As we flew over the stadium, I exclaimed, ‘Alright, enough, I’m coming.'”
During the 2010 interview, Beckenbauer also mentioned his experiences at a renowned nightclub.with fellow Cosmos stars Pele and Carlos Alberto.
Unfortunately, Beckenbauer was unable to participate in the 1978 World Cup due to the German team’s choice to not include players who were playing in other countries. However, in 1980, he came back to Germany and played for Hamburger SV for two seasons, securing his fifth Bundesliga championship. He then concluded his career with a final season at the Cosmos.
Despite lacking previous coaching experience, Beckenbauer was appointed to rejuvenate West Germany in 1984 following a disappointing performance at the European Championship.
In 1986, West Germany reached the final of the World Cup, but ultimately lost to Argentina led by Diego Maradona in Mexico City. Despite not winning the 1988 Euros on their home turf, West Germany made it to the final of the 1990 World Cup and emerged victorious against Argentina in Rome, marking another memorable moment in the year following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The scoring play was executed by Andreas Brehme, a defender who was once advised by Beckenbauer to “pursue other interests, but not football.”
Beckenbauer walked alone and reflected at the Olympic Stadium as his team celebrated.
At a later press conference, he expressed regret for the rest of the world as a united Germany would remain undefeated for years to come. However, it took 24 years for Germany to reach this point.
Achieving victory in the World Cup again..
After departing for New York, Beckenbauer never resided in Munich again. Instead, he lived in Kitzbuehel, an Austrian Alpine town near the border, due to its lower tax rates.
Beckenbauer had a strong passion for traveling and made it a point to personally visit all 31 countries that qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
As a child, Beckenbauer developed a desire to travel while collecting pictures for a sticker album. He was intrigued by the photos of Africa and America, but never imagined he would have the opportunity to visit these places himself.
There are countless individuals who journey, yet fail to truly observe due to their busy nature. I, on the other hand, have always been inquisitive.
After leading the team to victory in the 1990 World Cup, Beckenbauer retired from his role as coach for West Germany. This came at a significant time as the Berlin Wall had recently fallen and Germany was in the process of reunifying following the end of the Cold War. The final game of the tournament marked the end of an era for the West Germany-only team.
Although he did not have much success coaching Marseille, he achieved the Bundesliga title with Bayern in 1994 and the UEFA Cup in 1996 after taking over as coach late in the season. He went on to become Bayern’s president, but stepped down from most of his responsibilities upon turning 65 in 2010.
Beckenbauer’s legal troubles related to the 2006 World Cup persisted even after his retirement. However, he remained a highly esteemed figure in German soccer and society.