Franz Beckenbauer turns 75 today
'Der Kaiser' won the FIFA World Cup in 1974 as a player and in 1990 as a coach
Named honorary life captain of the German side
Both as player and coach, Franz Beckenbauer left an indelible mark on German football.
He was one of the best liberos the world has ever seen, his elegance on the ball as he glided almost weightlessly up the pitch earning him the nickname 'Der Kaiser'. Beckenbauer won virtually all that there is to win with Bayern Munich before rounding off his career with New York Cosmos and Hamburg, but it was in the white and black of the German national team that he truly shot to international fame.
He reached the final of this first ever FIFA World Cup™ in England in 1966, and four years later was part of the 'game of the century' in the semi-final of the same competition against Italy, which Germany lost, finishing third that time around. In 1974, the long-awaited triumph finally came as he captained Germany to their second World Cup win.
After wining the game's ultimate prize as a player in 1974, Beckenbauer incredibly managed to repeat the feat as a coach in Italy in 1990 as Germany added a third star to their jerseys. Only Didier Deschamps and Mario Zagallo have managed to lift that most coveted of trophies as both a player and a coach.
Der Kaiser was also never short of a good quote, and his one-liners have become legendary in the German-speaking world. His Germany team-mate Gunter Netzer said of him that he was “the best before his time, the best of his time and since then, no-one better has come along".
But let us hear from the great man himself and pick out seven of his most memorable quotes, before revelling in five exceptional World Cup moments as we celebrate the great man’s special day.
"We’re going to go out and play football."
His preview of the 1990 World Cup final
"Lothar [Matthaus] and I had our differences of opinion, but I always managed to get him to see my point of view – thank goodness. After all, the results speak for themselves."
On his relationship with Lothar Matthaus
"We didn’t invent magical football or the beautiful game. Germans have to work to achieve their success."
On German football
"There was a whole host of matches that didn’t deserve to be played in the stadium but in the park land alongside it."
On the quality of some of the matches at France 98
"I’m sorry for the rest of the world, but this team is going to be unbeatable for years to come."
On the German team after the 1990 World Cup
"Johan [Cruyff] was a better player. But I won the World Cup."
On The Netherlands’ Johan Cruyff
"People keep saying that football is a drug. I say that football is a passion, a love. I’m not addicted to football, but I do love it."
On his love of football
1966: Beckenbauer bagged two goals in his first ever World Cup match, against Switzerland, scoring the third and fourth in Germany’s 5-0 win. Both goals reflected his technical brilliance as much as the elegant way he played his football. Der Kaiser’s first World Cup strike saw him outwit the opposing defence with a clever one-two and fire the ball past the keeper on the run. His second was a typical Beckenbauer solo run from the half-way line.
1966: At the age of just 20, Beckenbauer made the final of the World Cup in Wembley, playing as a defensive midfielder against the hosts and slipping to defeat after Geoff Hurst’s now legendary goal.
1970: Beckenbauer played the 1970 World Cup semi-final against Italy with a dislocated shoulder from the 65th minute onwards. With his hastily improvised sling, he became the symbolic figure for the German team in what has been described as the 'game of the century'. He ended up on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline after extra time, and had to make do with third place in his second World Cup.
1974: Beckenbauer was Germany’s libero and captain, leading them to World Cup victory on home soil. And after the 2-1 win in the final against The Netherlands in Munich’s Olympiastadion, Der Kaiser finally got to raise the World Cup trophy aloft.
1990: At the end of the World Cup final, the Kaiser seemed lost in his thoughts as he walked alone across the pitch in Rome. He wore light pleated trousers and a dark jacket, but most importantly, he had a golden World Cup medal around his neck. Winning the ultimate prize as both a player and then as a coach was a feat that only Mario Zagallo had achieved before him.