Franz Beckenbauer rates as one of the all-time greats in world football. Known reverently in his home country of Germany as Lichtgestalt or “the guiding light", and respectfully all over the globe as Der Kaiser, the former player, coach and senior official is one of those individuals blessed with a Midas touch.
In recognition of his extraordinary achievements and record of service to the world's favourite game, Beckenbauer was presented with the FIFA Presidential Award 2012 at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 Gala on the evening of Monday 7 January 2013 at Zurich's Kongresshaus.
Sustained record of success
Wherever he travels around the world, the Munich-born 67-year-old commands respect, admiration and honour. It is hard to imagine a better emissary and ambassador for the game of football, as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter emphasised in his citation: “This evening’s award winner isone of these extraordinary personalities. I can only hint at his triumphs, prizes, awards and honours because to give a complete list would way exceed the time available."
Beckenbauer excelled as a supremely elegant, world-class player, as a charismatic coach and manager on the touchline, and as the figurehead and chief organiser of a major sports event. In all three cases, his endeavours were rewarded with comprehensive success. And each and every time, the focus was the FIFA World Cup™.
As team captain and libero, a role he defined and embodied like none before or since, Beckenbauer led West Germany to glory at the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ on his home soil. Some 16 years later, he watched from the dugout as his Germany team reclaimed the glittering Trophy in Italy.
And in 2006, when the global showdown returned to Germany, the Kaiser headed up the Local Organising Committee in his own inimitable style, emerging as the human face and figurehead of the tournament. “He organised a FIFA World Cup which we can describe as perfect, and which has exerted a positive influence on his country for many years since,” said Blatter.
Heart and soul for football
Among his vast array of personal honours,Beckenbauer was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 1984, and Germany's highest civil honour, the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 2006. But away from the titles, trophies and awards, it is the deeply human, down-to-earth personality of Germany's Player of the Century which has always stirred feelings of affection and sympathy.
“The thing which most impresses me about this evening's award winner is his modesty. Despite all the accolades and adulation, he has always kept his feet on the ground and remained an open, honest and accessible person without airs and graces. His heart and soul remain committed to football, and his immense knowledge and likeable, direct manner make him a much sought-after expert all over the world,” continued Blatter.
Influential and experienced figure
Beckenbauer was a member of the FIFA Executive Committee from 2007 until 2011. He then chaired the FIFA Task Force Football 2014 in its deliberations on the future of the game. Once the task force filed its recommendations, Beckenbauer joined Brazilian icon Pele as a special advisor to the FIFA Football Committee, one of the world governing body’s standing committees, which continues to devise suggestions for improvements to the game.
“Personally, I’m always pleased to work with him, and I’m delighted at the chance to honour him today," Blatter said at the award ceremony. “He has given outstanding service to football at a number of levels, thanks to the way he combines footballing ability, strong leadership and management quality."
Fortunately for the global family of football, the Kaiser will continue to contribute his experience, expertise and personality to the game for the foreseeable future.