Farewell, Kaiser: German football icon Franz Beckenbauer dies at 78
Beckenbauer captained West Germany to the World Cup in 1972 and then as manager, guided the Lothar Matthäus-led side to glory in the 1990 edition in Italy
Germany football legend Franz Beckenbauer, one of only three players to win the football World Cup as both a player and coach, has died aged 78, his family confirmed on Monday. Thrice married, Beckenbauer had five children.
"It is with deep sadness that we inform you that my husband and our father Franz Beckenbauer fell asleep peacefully yesterday (Sunday), surrounded by family," his family said in a statement on Monday.
"We ask that you mourn in silence and refrain from asking any questions," the statement said. The family did not give any details of his health in recent times, though Beckenbauer had cardiac surgery twice, in 2016 and 2017. He also had an artificial hip inserted in 2018.
Known worldwide as der kaiser (the king), Beckenbauer captained West Germany to the World Cup in 1972 and then as manager, guided the Lothar Matthäus-led side to glory in the 1990 edition in Italy.
Credited with creating the libero position and defining the sweeper's role, a cornerstone of modern football, Beckenbauer bagged 103 caps for West Germany, captaining them to victory in the 1974 World Cup. He was also a key member of the West German team that reached the final of the 1966 World Cup in England, losing to hosts England via a controversial extra-time goal.
Beckenbauer is one of the few players to have a full set of World Cup medals as he was part of the West German team that won a bronze medal in the 1970 edition in Mexico.
He also won numerous other honours, including a hat-trick of European Cups with Bayern Munich in the mid-1970s, when he also established his reputation as a defender of supreme talent.
The only defender in football history to win the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) twice, Beckenbauer made 427 appearances for Bayern Munich, scoring 60 league goals between 1964 and 1977. He played for New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1980 before returning to Germany to represent Hamburger SV from 1980 to 1982. He finally ended his playing career with the New York Cosmos in 1983. In all, the Kaiser played 560 matches in a career spanning two decades, and was named European Footballer of the Year twice.
After coaching Germany's age-group teams, Beckenbauer took charge of the senior national team from 1984-90. He also managed Bayern Munich (1932-94, 1996) and led Marseille as sports director in 1990-91.
Beckenbauer was a respected voice in world football for decades before he got involved in controversy following his role in Germany winning the bid to organise the FIFA World Cup in 2006. He was suspended by FIFA for 90 days in 2014 for allegedly refusing to cooperate with an inquiry into corruption dealing with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar.
The ban was lifted after Beckenbauer agreed to participate in FIFA's inquiry. Later, he was again investigated by the FIFA Ethics Commission in 2016, during which it was found that he was paid a huge sum by South Africa, which hosted the World Cup in 2010. He claimed the amount was transferred to his account via Gibraltar for "consultancy work".