Franz Beckenbauer holds a unique place in the history of football's greatest competition, the World Cup. He is regarded as one of the greatest players of the modern era. He played key roles in two World Cup triumphs - one as a player, the other as a team manager - and now (at the time of writing) he's the chairman of the committee that's already hard at work planning the 2006 World Cup.
But Beckenbauer's significance for football doesn't end there. He was highly influential in the development of modern football tactics. It was Beckenbauer who developed the concept of the libero - the lone free player in a team, not tied to any particular position on the pitch. It's no wonder that 'The Kaiser', as he's affectionately known, is one of the most respected figures in world football.
Franz Beckenbauer was born in Munich, Germany, on 11 September, 1945. He showed a precocious football talent at a very young age, and joined the youth team of SC München 06 at the age of nine. Then, in 1958, he signed for the club with whom he would be most closely associated for decades to come: Bayern Munich.
Franz's first match for West Germany took place on 26 September, 1965. It was a World Cup qualifying match in Stockholm, where West Germany beat Sweden 2-1. The West Germans' qualifying campaign was successful, and so Beckenbauer came to England for the 1966 World Cup. He did so on a high, having just won a German Cup winner's medal with Bayern.
The West Germans' World Cup finals campaign got off to a flying start, and Beckenbauer played a major part in that early success. He scored twice as West Germany swept aside Switzerland 5-0 in their opening match. A 0-0 draw with Argentina and a 2-1 win over Spain, in which Beckenbauer got one of the goals, saw the West Germans through to the quarter-finals. Beckenbauer carried on scoring there, notching one of the four goals the West Germans put past Uruguay without reply; and he was on target again with one of the West Germans' goals in their 2-1 semi-final win over the Soviet Union.
Very few British readers will need to be told what happened when West Germany took on England in the 1966 World Cup final. The Germans took the lead after 12 minutes through Helmut Haller, only for goals from Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters to give England the lead. An 89th-minute goal from Wolfgang Weber took the game into extra time. Then Hurst scored England's hotly-disputed third goal - one of the most controversial goals in World Cup history. Hurst's shot bounced down off the crossbar and was adjudged to have just crossed the line. Finally, as a few over-excited England supporters ran on to one end of the pitch in the last minute, Hurst scored again.
It was all over - but Beckenbauer's career was just beginning, and it had got off to a pretty strong start. Asked about the 1966 World Cup in an interview shortly before the 2002 tournament, Franz happily recalled: 'I got off to a good start, and I think it ended well too, because we did well in getting to the final at Wembley and taking it into extra time. Finishing runner up is not too bad for a young player'.
Bayern Munich 4, West Germany 0
The next phase of Franz's career was marked by success on the domestic front and disappointment with West Germany. Bayern Munich went from strength to strength. In 1967 they beat Rangers 1-0 in Nuremburg to win the European Cup-Winners Cup2, and won the German Cup for the second successive year.
It was in this late 1960s period that Beckenbauer began to develop the new football concept of the libero. Though officially a defender, he would sometimes come forward and make telling contributions in midfield or attack. There would be nothing at all unusual about that today, but in an era when players' positions on the football field were usually rigidly defined, Beckenbauer's style of play was revolutionary.
It brought Beckenbauer plenty of success with Bayern Munich, but things didn't go so well for him on the international front. West Germany suffered humiliation in the 1968 European Championships. They failed to qualify for the finals of the competition after losing 1-0 to Yugoslavia and then, shockingly, being held to a goalless draw in Albania.
Things went much better for Beckenbauer in 1969. Bayern won the German League and Cup double, and West Germany comfortably qualified for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The goalscoring feats of Gerd Muller propelled West Germany through the early first round and into a dramatic quarter-final against England, in which England led 2-0 before the West Germans fought back to win 3-2 in extra time.
The semi-finals saw West Germany face Italy in what was to be a classic encounter. For Beckenbauer, it was also a painful encounter, and one he faced with considerable courage. He had dislocated his shoulder, and played with his arm in a sling.
But his brave efforts were in vain. Roberto Boninsegna gave Italy the lead in the eighth minute, and it looked as if that would be enough to take Italy through - but Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalised in the 90th minute. There followed an amazing period of extra time that produced five goals. Muller made the score 3-3 with 10 minutes left, but Gianni Rivera went straight to the other end and scored what proved to be the winner a minute later. It had been a truly great game, but the West Germans had lost out again.
On Top Of The World
The first half of the 1970s was a golden era for Franz Beckenbauer. Bayern Munich won the German Cup again in 1971, while West Germany enjoyed a successful European Championship qualifying campaign. Bayern then captured the Bundesliga championship in 1972.
At the European Championship finals in Belgium, West Germany came out on top with the phenomenally prolific Muller again among the goals. Muller scored both West Germany's goals as they beat the hosts 2-1 in the semi-final, and netted another two as they won the final fairly comfortably, 3-0 against the Soviet Union.
Bayern Munich dominated the Bundesliga in the early 1970s. They retained their championship in 1973, and made it three in a row in 1974. In 1974 they also captured the European Cup3, beating Atletico Madrid 4-0 in a replayed final following a 1-1 draw.
Beckenbauer was by now the captain of the West German national team, and so he had the responsibility of leading the home team into the 1974 World Cup - a tournament in which they had the privilege and the pressure of being the host nation.
Franz certainly regarded the situation of being the home team as, at best, a mixed blessing. Looking back to the 1974 World Cup in 2002, he observed:
You are always under pressure in the finals. And if you are the host team you feel it twice as much, because everyone expects you to win - but you just have to deal with it. Also, when you play at home you are never out of the spotlight. You can't make a move without someone following you, and that's a disadvantage.
Despite these difficulties, the West Germans began brightly with a 1-0 win over Chile and a 3-0 success against Australia. But they then lost 1-0 to the team from East Germany. In terms of progress in the competition, that result didn't matter - both Germanies had already qualified for the second stage. But given the political tension between East and West Germany, the result was a major embarrassment, and a blow to Beckenbauer's team's morale.
The West Germans picked themselves up for the second stage, which was being played in two groups of four, with the two group winners progressing to the final. In the event, West Germany's final group game was a de facto semi-final; their opponents, Poland, had also won their other second-phase games, so the winners would reach the final. After a close game, a 76th-minute strike by Muller was enough to see Beckenbauer's men through.
Beckenbauer was right at home for the final against The Netherlands; it was played in Munich. But from a West German point of view, the final could hardly have got off to a worse start. The Netherlands attacked right from the kick-off, and their star player Johan Cruyff was fouled in the penalty area. Johan Neeskens converted the resulting penalty, and West Germany were a goal down before they'd touched the ball.
But the Germans fought back. In the 18th minute they got a penalty of their own, and Paul Breitner converted. The decisive goal came two minutes before half-time, and yet again the scorer was Muller. There were no more goals in the second half, and Franz Beckenbauer became the first team captain to get his hands on the new FIFA World Cup.4
Beckenbauer's last international campaign as a player came in the 1976 European Championships. West Germany came through their qualifying group without losing a match, beat Spain 3-1 on aggregate in the two-legged quarter-final. The semi-finals and final were played in Yugoslavia, and West Germany fought back from 2-0 down to beat the hosts 4-2 in the semi-final.
The West Germans were hot favourites to beat Czechoslovakia in the final, so it was a surprise when they found themselves 2-0 down midway through the first half. But as in the semi-final, they fought back, and equalised in the 89th minute to force extra time. This time, however, the tournament ended in disappointment for Beckenbauer and his team. No more goals were scored in extra time, and Czechoslovakia won the European Championship by winning a penalty shoot-out 5-3. It was an unfortunate end to a tremendous international career during which Beckenbauer made 103 appearances for the West German national team. Along the way, he became the first player ever to play in 100 matches for West Germany.
America and Hamburgers
In 1977, Franz decided to leave his beloved Bayern Munich in order to accept a lucrative offer from New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. The NASL was a competition mostly featuring American clubs, with one or two Canadian sides joining in, which attracted many overseas stars who were nearing the end of their playing careers. Beckenbauer played for Cosmos in four NASL campaigns, during which they won the NASL championship three times.
In 1980, Beckenbauer decided to return to Germany, and signed for SV Hamburg. In his first season with the club they finished as runners-up in the Bundesliga, denied the title by Franz' former club Bayern Munich. But in the 1981-2 season, a superb Hamburg side scored a phenomenal 95 goals in their 34 Bundesliga matches, and captured the championship.
Beckenbauer then retired from playing in the Bundesliga. He returned to America in 1983 for one last season with New York Cosmos, and then finally brought down the curtain on his extraordinary playing career.
Beckenbauer the National Team Manager
Despite his superb record as a player, the appointment of Franz Beckenbauer as West German team manager in July 1984 caused a lot of raised eyebrows. It is unusual, to say the least, for anyone to begin a career in football team management with a job as manager of a national team. But when West Germany had a disappointing campaign in the 1984 European Championships, team manager Jupp Derwall was ousted and the German FA turned to Beckenbauer. His first task was to guide the West German team to the finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. They achieved that fairly comfortably, losing only one game in the qualifying tournament.
West Germany's progress in the 1986 World Cup was sometimes a little uncertain. They struggled through to the second round, losing one group game to Denmark, and then took 86 minutes to score the one goal that beat Morocco. In the quarter-finals, they and Mexico played two hours of goalless football before West Germany finally progressed courtesy of a penalty shoot-out. But in the semi-finals, Beckenbauer's team won a more convincing victory over France, goals from Andreas Brehme and Rudi Voller giving them a 2-0 win.
Argentina dominated much of the 1986 World Cup final, and led West Germany 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to go. Then the German team produced a determined comeback. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge made it 2-1 in the 74th minute, and six minutes later Voller equalised. It seemed as though Franz Beckenbauer's team might win football's biggest prize in his first tournament as a team manager. Then, with seven minutes left, a superb pass from Diego Maradona set up Jose Burruchuga to score the winning goal for Argentina.
West Germany were the host nation for the 1988 European Championships. They progressed through the first round group stage of the competition easily enough, but were beaten 2-1 by the Netherlands in the semi-final, with Marco van Basten scoring a dramatic 89th-minute winner for the Netherlands. The Dutch side went on to win the trophy, beating the Soviet Union 2-0 in the final.
Fortunately, the West German FA kept faith with Franz, and he remained in charge as the West German team began their 1990 World Cup campaign. Their progress through the qualifying tournament was steady rather than sensational, but they finally finished second in their group behind the Netherlands, enough to earn a place at the World Cup finals in Italy.
West Germany got through the first round in Italy fairly comfortably, and the second round brought another meeting with the Netherlands. This time the West Germans won 2-1, with goals from Juergen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme. Then a tense game against Czechoslovakia was won 1-0 thanks to a Matthaus penalty, and the West Germans were through to the semi-finals. There, they would face another traditional rival: England.
The semi-final was goalless until the 60th minute, when a deflected shot from Andreas Brehme looped over England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and dropped just under the bar. But then, with 10 of the 90 minutes left, Gary Lineker scored for England, and the game went into extra time. No more goals were scored, and so the semi-final went to a penalty shoot-out. Both teams converted their first three penalties, and then West German goalkeeper Bodo Illgner saved Stuart Pearce's spot kick. Olaf Thon scored with the West Germans' fourth penalty, meaning that Chris Waddle had to score to keep England's hopes alive. He missed, and Franz Beckenbauer had led West Germany to the World Cup final for the second time.
For neutral observers, the 1990 World Cup final between West Germany and Argentina was not a particularly edifying spectacle. It was a bad-tempered, scrappy match. Beckenbauer had organised the West German defence superbly, and Argentina's tackles and tactics became more and more desperate as the game progressed and the Germans frustrated them. Tempers frayed, and there was the first-ever sending off in a World Cup final when Argentina's Pedro Monzon was shown the red card in the 65th minute.
Rather appropriately, the decisive goal came from a disputed penalty, awarded to West Germany with five minutes to go and converted by Andreas Brehme. Argentina weren't able to equalise, but they did manage to get another player sent off in the short time remaining, Gustavo Dezotti following Monzon off the field.
West Germany kept Argentina's nine men at bay for the remaining minutes, and won the game 1-0. It may have been a disappointing final, but that hardly diminished the team manager's achievement. Franz Beckenbauer had won the World Cup as a player in 1974, and now he'd won the Cup again as a manager.
Back to Bayern
Having won the ultimate prize in international football team management, Franz decided to quit while he was on top, and gave up the West Germany team manager's job. But he couldn't stay away from football management altogether. His first job as a club manager was with the French team Olympique Marseilles. Then he got the chance to return to the club where he'd first made his name as a player.
Once again, the combination of Franz Beckenbauer and Bayern Munich proved to be successful. Bayern were champions of the Bundesliga in 1994. Two years later they won the UEFA Cup, comfortably beating Bordeaux of France by an aggregate score of 5-1 in the two-legged final. Franz Beckenbauer then 'moved upstairs' to become president of Bayern Munich.
The Third Way
In 1998, Franz Beckenbauer was appointed Vice-President of the German Football Association. One of his primary tasks in that role was to promote Germany's bid to host the 2006 World Cup. The bidding was close and sometimes acrimonious. There were rival bids to stage the tournament from South Africa, England and Morocco, and for a long time during the lengthy bidding process South Africa were the favourites.
When FIFA finally took the decision in July 2000, Morocco and then England were eliminated in the first two rounds of voting. It all hinged on a final vote between South Africa and Germany. In the end, a single vote separated the two competing bids - and it was announced that Germany would host the 2006 World Cup Finals.
Franz Beckenbauer's role in persuading FIFA to choose Germany was much praised. German Interior Minister Otto Schily commented: 'It's a deserved reward for the extraordinary work by Franz Beckenbauer. It's a great situation for Germany.' After winning the World Cup as a player and as a manager, Franz Beckenbauer had found a third way to bring the World Cup to Germany.
Franz himself described the success of Germany's bid as '...probably my greatest moment,' adding: 'As player or as coach you can in theory compete at a World Cup every four years. But to bring the World Cup to your country and to organise it - you get that chance only once in your lifetime.'
In his new role as chairman of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer now has that chance.
Franz Beckenbauer's Honours
As a Player
- 424 Bundesliga appearances (44 goals)
- 78 European Cup appearances (6 goals)
- 1976 World Club Championship winner
- 1974 - 1976 European Champions Cup winner
- 1967 European Cup Winners Cup winner
- 1969, 1972-1974, 1982 German Championship winner
- 1970, 1971, 1981 German Championship runner-up
- 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971 German Cup winner
- 1977, 1978, 1980 USA Championship winner
- 103 appearances for West Germany (50 as team captain: 14 goals scored)
- 1974 World Cup winner
- 1966 World Cup runner-up
- 1970 World Cup third place
- 1972 European Championship winner
- 1976 European Championship runner-up
As a Manager
- 66 games as West Germany team manager.
- 1990 World Cup winner
- 1986 World Cup runner-up
- 1988 European Championship semi-finals
(With Bayern Munich)
- 1994 German Championship winner
- 1996 German Championship runner-up
- 1996 UEFA Cup winner
Related BBC Pages
For BBC Sport's 2002 World Cup pages, football pundit Alan Hansen nominated the six players he considered to be the greatest ever to grace the World Cup. Franz Beckenbauer was one of his choices.
This BBC news report, produced before the 1999 Champions' League final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United, examines Bayern's 1970s triumphs, when they were European champions for three consecutive years. It discusses Franz Beckenbauer's prominent role in that phenomenal period of the club's history, and features audio files of Franz reflecting on those triumphant times.