Franz Beckenbauer, often simply known as ‘The Kaiser’, has always been at the heart of modern football with a career that seems almost ageless. Skillful, practically perfect, and complete in every sense, Beckenbauer glorified football history by achieving the remarkable feat of winning the World Cup as a player in 1974 and later as a coach in 1990. Becoming prominent in the football world with the German national team jersey at the tender age of 20 during the 1966 World Cup in England, he had already proven his potential with four impressive goals and his memorable duel with the home team’s captain, Bobby Charlton.
Four years later, the German sweeper took revenge in the Mexican World Cup, knocking out England with his goal before creating an unforgettable image playing on with a dislocated collarbone in the historic 4-3 defeat to Italy. In 1974, with the World Cup held on home turf, Beckenbauer affirmed his dominance. His duel with Johan Crujiff, a symbol of a clash of schools – the grounded German school versus the revolutionary Dutch school – has become iconic. The Kaiser, captain of the German team, lifted the coveted World Cup trophy creating a cherished moment which defined his entire career.
In addition to his international achievements, Beckenbauer won numerous trophies with Bayern Munich, the club where he spent almost his entire career, barring his American stint with Cosmos and his return to Germany with Hamburg. He won the Ballon d’Or twice, in 1972 and 1976, with the first one breaking the stereotype that overlooked defenders for this much-coveted award. This recognition of achievement also cemented Beckenbauer’s status as a great sweeper, the first true innovator of modern football. With him, the last line of defence becomes the first line of attack, often resulting in the initiation of play. Such a groundbreaking change in thinking could only be brought about by a man of profound tactical intelligence and exceptional class, traits which Beckenbauer later applied in his successful coaching career.
The impressive list of Franz Beckenbauer’s victories is extensive. In addition to his World Cup victories, the list includes a European Championship in 1972, three Champions League trophies with Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976, one Intercontinental Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, eight national titles and four national cups.