German football mourns ‘sublime’ Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer became Bayern Munich’s honorary president (Christof STACHE)

Germany united to mourn the death of Franz Beckenbauer on Monday, with figures from across the sporting and political landscape bidding farewell to the ‘Kaiser’.

Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner as both a player and a coach, died on Sunday at the age of 78, with news of his death not announced until Monday evening.

Beckenbauer had largely withdrawn from public life in recent years as he battled a number of ailments.

His family said the former midfielder died “peacefully” surrounded by his family in the Austrian city of Salzburg.

Known as ‘Der Kaiser’, the German word for Emperor, Beckenbauer was revered as an icon of the game in post-World War II Germany.

“We’ll miss him” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday.

“Franz Beckenbauer was one of the greatest footballers in Germany” Scholz said, saying the former midfielder “inspired enthusiasm for German football for generations.”

Ballon d’Or-winning midfielder Lothar Matthaeus echoed the Chancellor’s words, telling Bild “we will miss him.”

“The shock is deep, even if I knew Franz wasn’t well.”

Matthaeus was Germany’s captain and talisman when Beckenbauer coached the side to victory at the 1990 World Cup.

“His death is a loss for football and for all of Germany. He was one of the greats as a player and a coach, but also off the pitch.”

“Everyone who knew him knew what a great and generous person Franz was. A good friend has left us.”

Fellow 1990 World Cup winner and current German FA (DFB) sporting director Rudi Voeller expressed his “immense sadness”, saying “he will forever remain a luminous figure.”

“German football loses a great personality” Voeller said. “I lose a great friend.”

Current Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann credited Beckenbauer for “changing the game” as a ‘libero’, or free central defender.

“His friendship with the ball made him a free man.

“Franz Beckenbauer could float across the pitch. As a footballer and later as a coach he was sublime”.

– ‘Unforgettable’ –

Beckenbauer’s career is closely linked with Bayern Munich, where he started as a youth player in 1958, playing in the Bavarian capital until 1977.

“Bayern’s world is no longer what it used to be” Bayern wrote on Monday, saying “it is suddenly darker, calmer and poorer.”

As one of Bayern’s greatest players, Beckenbauer had an enduring relationship with honorary president Uli Hoeness — who he played alongside in the victorious 1974 German World Cup side.

“Franz Beckenbauer is the greatest personality that Bayern ever had,” Hoeness said on Monday.

“As a player, coach, president, person: unforgettable.

“Nobody will ever reach his level… He was a friend, a unique companion and a gift to us all.”

Beckenbauer won titles with Bayern as a player and a coach, before stepping into the role of president from 2002 to 2009, establishing the German giants as one of European football’s powerhouse sides.

Long-time Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he was “deeply shocked” at the news.

“Franz Beckenbauer rewrote the history of German football and left a lasting impact on it.”

“He had a great respect for people… Because for Franz, everyone was equal.

Rummenigge said “German football is losing the greatest personality in its history” and said the loss was “more than painful.”

Current Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said “the story of Bayern and German football cannot be told without Franz Beckenbauer.”

Berti Vogts, who won the 1974 World Cup alongside Beckenbauer, told AFP subsidiary SID on Monday “it makes me sad we have to part ways so early.”

“We played together at the U18 level, the national team and were at the World Cup.”

Fellow 1974 World Cup winner Wolfgang Overath told SID “it’s unimaginable that he’s no longer there.”

“He towered over everyone, he was so big, and yet so down to earth. A fine man.”

“He called me three months ago for my birthday with all the strength he had left. I never expected it to end so quickly.”



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