Franz Beckenbauer, one of Germany’s greatest soccer players, who captained the team to World Cup victory in 1974 then won the tournament again as manager in 1990, has died at the age of 78, German news agency DPA reported on Monday.
Beckenbauer was a classy, dominant presence on the pitch for West Germany and Bayern Munich in the 1960s and 70s, using the calmness on the ball and effortless distribution that marked his midfield performances to virtually invent the central defensive sweeper role where he found most success.
He collected 103 caps for West Germany, winning the 1972 European championship and then the World Cup on home soil having lost in the final to England in 1966.
His Bayern Munich team was the best club side in the world during the mid-1970s, winning three successive European Cups and three successive Bundesliga titles, and Beckenbauer himself was twice named European footballer of the year.
As national team manager his West Germany team lost in the 1986 World Cup final to Argentina but triumphed four years later in Italy as a combined German team.
Beckenbauer, nicknamed Der Kaiser (“The emperor”), was one of three men to have won the World Cup as player and coach and his death comes three days after the first to do it – Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. France’s Didier Deschamps is the other.
After coaching, Beckenbauer moved into football administration but in 2016 he was fined by FIFA’s ethics committee for failing to co-operate with an inquiry into corruption over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. (Reuters)