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German football legend “Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer, World Cup champion as a player in 1974 and a coach in 1990, died on Sunday, at the age of 78, according to what the German Football Association announced on Monday.

Beckenbauer, captain of the West German national team in the 1970s and coach of Die Mannschaft between 1984 and 1990, and a former administrator at Bayern Munich in the 1990s, withdrew from public life in recent years due to health problems.

Beckenbauer is widely considered among the best footballers in history, the only defender to win the Ballon d’Or twice, and was nicknamed “The Kaiser” due to his elegant style of play and strong personality on and off the grass.

The late star, who starred in the shirts of Bayern Munich, the American New York Cosmos, and Hamburg, held several administrative positions, most notably the presidency of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and the presidency of the giant club Bayern Munich.

Journey and successes

Beckenbauer was born in 1945 in the middle-class district of Giesing in Munich, home of 1860 Munich, the club that was more successful in that period than current giant Bayern Munich.

Despite playing for a different team in the Bavarian capital, Munich SC 1906, Beckenbauer grew up a fan of Munich 1860.

He told the German newspaper “BZ” in 2004, “It was actually clear that I would go to Munich 1860 when I grew up to play with the professionals.”

However, when Beckenbauer, then 12 years old, faced his favorite team, he was slapped in the face by an opposing player out of sight of the referee.

Beckenbauer immediately decided not to join the “Lions” and moved to their giant rival, the Bayern Munich youth team, the following season, and his decision led to changing the history of German football.

Less than a decade after making his debut for Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer led the team to three consecutive European Club Champions Cup (now Champions League) titles.

After winning three German League titles in a row, a record that stood in Germany until Bayern broke it under the leadership of Spanish coach Pep Guardiola in the 2015-2016 season, Beckenbauer led the Bavarian team to the European final in 1974 against Atletico Madrid of Spain.

After 90 minutes without goals, Atletico took the lead in extra time, but Bayern equalized after 120 minutes.

The match was replayed two days later, and Bayern, led by Beckenbauer, won 4-0. He then led his team to the crown in the following two years as well, at the expense of England’s Leeds United and France’s Saint-Etienne, to complete the continental treble.

Beckenbauer was a leader on and off the field

1974.. 1990

Despite competing in the 1974 World Cup on its home soil, West Germany was not a candidate to win when it faced its neighbor, the Netherlands, in the 1974 final at the Olympic Stadium in Munich.

The Netherlands, led by the star Johan Cruyff, entertained viewers with their reliance on an attacking football called “Total Football”, which was technically superior to the practical and effective West Germany led by Beckenbauer.

West Germany’s mission seemed impossible one minute after the start of the final match, when Cruyff, who was participating in his last World Cup, won a penalty kick that was translated into a goal before any German player touched the ball.

But Beckenbauer succeeded in galvanizing his team, which scored two goals and maintained a 2-1 lead in an unexpected victory, lifting the World Cup for the second time in German history.

Although individual awards were less important throughout Beckenbauer’s career as a player, the Kaiser’s brilliance was recognized throughout his playing career.

He rose to the Ballon d’Or podium five times in the period from 1966 to 1976, and won the Grand Prix in 1972 and 1976. Note that 1972 witnessed a German dominance of the top three places in this prestigious award, as Beckenbauer outperformed his Bayern Munich teammate Gerd Muller and Gunther. Netzer from Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Only one year after his second return to defend the American New York Cosmos, Beckenbauer was appointed coach of West Germany in 1984.

Beckenbauer seemed somewhat confused by the offer, with the Washington Post reporting that he said, “I don’t know why I said yes (to the position). Maybe I was a little crazy.”

After losing to Argentina 3-2 in the 1986 World Cup final, West Germany, under the leadership of Beckenbauer, was able to take revenge on the “Tango” team by defeating them 1-0 in the 1990 final in West Germany’s last tournament before competing as a unified country.

With this victory, Beckenbauer became the second man to win the World Cup as a player or coach, after Brazilian Mario Zagallo, who died a few days ago. Frenchman Didier Deschamps joined them after leading his country to the world title in 2018.

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