Franz Beckenbauer, the legendary German footballer and manager affectionately called “Der Kaiser” (The Emperor), has died at the age of 78, as confirmed by the German Football Federation (DFB) on Sunday. Beckenbauer, considered one of the greatest players ever and a true leader on the pitch, passed away in his hometown of Munich. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Beckenbauer made history by leading West Germany to World Cup glory both as a player in 1974 and later as manager in 1990. During his illustrious playing career from 1959 to 1983, Beckenbauer cemented his legacy as an exceptionally graceful yet commanding sweeper. The elegant defender excelled at initiating attacks and revolutionized his position.
Over 582 appearances with Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer helped capture five Bundesliga titles and three straight European Cups. His death left German football and Bayern Munich devastated. Herbert Hainer, Bayern’s president, stated that no words could express the enormity of their grief and the void Beckenbauer’s passing has left. Hainer praised Beckenbauer’s effortless elegance on the pitch, which brought flair and glamor to German football.
Nicknamed “Der Kaiser,” Beckenbauer dazzled in 103 matches for West Germany. He captained the national team 50 times and later spearheaded Germany’s successful 2006 World Cup hosting bid. Beckenbauer remains the only defender to ever win the Ballon d’Or (world’s best player) twice, in 1972 and 1976. He also uniquely won the World Cup, both as a player and as a manager.
The football world, including the UEFA and Premier League, mourned Beckenbauer as the incomparable German talent who gracefully dominated matches. Without Beckenbauer, Bayern Munich “would never have become the club it is today,” their statement read. Gary Lineker also shared his sorrow, calling Beckenbauer’s death a real loss, as he was “one of the absolute greats of our game.”