Franz Beckenbauer

Full Name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
Date of Birth: 1/9/1945


Introduction

Franz Beckenbauer is widely recognised as one of the greatest defenders to have ever played the game of football. His achievements alone bear testimony to his massive influence on the sport, being the first person to win the World Cup as a captain and as a manager.


Career Overview

Beckenbauer was born in Munich on 11th September 1945 in war-torn Germany and was soon playing football wherever he could. At the age of just 14 he joined FC Bayern Munich, the arch rivals of his favourite team 1860 Munich. This rather abrupt switch of allegiance was due to an altercation between Beckenbauer and an 1860 player in a youth team match.

After 5 years at Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer eventually played his first game for the club in 1964 in the season Bayern Munich were promoted to West Germany’s new league, the Bundesliga. Bayern soon became a major force in the Bundesliga with their talented young players such as Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier and Beckenbauer himself. In their first season, Bayern finished third and won the domestic cup, the DFB-Pokal Trophy. This qualified them for the European Cup Winners Cup which they also won.

Beckenbauer’s international career was also flourishing and he earned his first cap for West Germany in 1965, aged just 20. After becoming a regular for West Germany, he was chosen for their World Cup squad in 1966. Beckenbauer started every game in the match and even managed to score four goals in the tournament from defence, making him the third highest scorer. Despite this, West Germany lost to the hosts England in the final after extra time 4-2.

Back with Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer and his team were going from strength to strength and, with him as captain, they won the Bundesliga. It was at this point that Beckenbauer tried out his new sweeper position behind the two central defenders, enabling him to act as a last line of defence as well as pushing forward to attack whenever possible.

It was in 1968 when Beckenbauer was given the nickname ‘Der Kaiser’. Before a match in Vienna, Beckenbauer was pictured next to a statue of one of Austria’s old emperors. A newspaper dubbed this with the headline, “Fußball-Kaiser” (Football’s Emperor).


World Cup Winner

By the 1970s Beckenbauer was known as one of the best players in the world behind Pelé and was one of the major players in West Germany’s run in that year’s World Cup in Mexico. In the second round, he helped the team to overturn a 2-0 lead against England in a repeat of the previous World Cup final and even played with a dislocated arm in the semi-final against Italy, who eventually knocked them out.

After the World Cup, Beckenbauer was handed the captaincy of the national team and guided them to the European Championships in Belgium which they won 3-0 in the final against the Soviet Union, a poignant victory as the Soviets were then still in possession of Eastern Germany.

Beckenbauer then captained his nation for the World Cup which was being held in West Germany in 1974. Despite an embarrassing loss to East Germany in the group stages, they reached the final against the Netherlands at Beckenbauer’s home stadium, Olympiastadion. Falling behind to an early penalty, West Germany bounced back, won the match and Beckenbauer lifted the trophy. With this, West Germany had become the first ever team to be both World Cup and the European Championships winners at the same time.

He then continued to build on his success back with Bayern Munich, winning three consecutive European Cups between 1974 and 1976. Because of this, Beckenbauer was named as European Player of the Year for the second time (after also being awarded the title in 1972). Before he left Bayern Munich, he had played 427 matches for the club, scoring 60 goals.


Move Away From Bayern Munich

At the age of 32, Franz Beckenbauer joined other legends of the game such as Bobby Moore and Pelé in joining the North American Soccer League with New York Cosmos after being offered a very lucrative contract. With the Cosmos, he won the NASL title three times in four seasons.

At the end of his playing career, Beckenbauer played two seasons in West Germany for Hamburger SV and one more back with the New York Cosmos. In 1983, at the age of 38, Beckenbauer retired but he would not stay out of football for long time. Beckenbauer won over 100 caps for West Germany, scoring 14 goals. This made him the most capped player ever for West Germany before the re-unification.


Post-Retirement

A year later, in 1984, he was appointed as the head coach for the West German national team and took them to the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 where they lost in the final 3-2 to Argentina. Two years later, his West Germany team hosted the European Championships but in a reverse of the famous 1974 World Cup final, they lost 2-1 to the Netherlands.

Beckenbauer then took his team to the 1990 World Cup in Italy where they got revenge for the 1986 final by beating Argentina 1-0 with a controversial penalty. Beckenbauer had thus become the second person to win the cup as a player and a manager and the first to have won it as a captain and a manager.

After winning the World Cup, he left the national job and decided to enter club management, taking over at Olympic Marseille in France before going on to manage his old club Bayern Munich twice, winning the Bundesliga and the UEFA Cup with them.

In 1994, Beckenbauer took over as president of Bayern Munich and vice-president of the German FA. Since then, he has worked hard to promote German football and was an integral part of the team who won hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, becoming head organiser for the actual event.


Individual Honours

  • Ballon d’Or Winner: 1972, 1976, Runner-up: 1974, 1975
  • FIFA World Cup Young Player of the Tournament: 1966
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Runner-up: 1974
  • FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament: 1966, 1970, 1974
  • European Football Championships Team of the Tournament: 1972, 1976
  • German Footballer of the Year: 1966, 1968, 1974, 1976


Player Statistics

Senior Club and National Team Statistics
Period Team Appearances (Goals)
1964-1977 FC Bayern Munich 427 (60)
1977-1980 New York Cosmos 105 (19)
1980-1982 Hamburger SV 28 (0)
1983 New York Cosmos 27 (2)
1965-1977 West Germany 103 (14)