Long Live ‘Der Kaiser’: Franz Beckenbauer Dies At 78, But His Values Will Live On

Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer

One of the finest players and greatest celebrators of soccer, Franz Beckenbauer, has died at the age of 78. The Germany and Bayern Munich icon’s family confirmed the news via DPA, a German news agency, on Monday, revealing he had passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night (January 7).

Beckenbauer was not only one of the greatest of the game, he was also a trendsetter, the personification of the game’s unyielding spirit. Throughout his playing and coaching career, ‘Der Kaiser’, as he was affectionately called, trailblazed, inspired millions, and propelled his teams to unprecedented success.

Franz Beckenbauer: The Liberator

Beckenbauer revolutionized the way the game was played by reimagining the ‘Libero’ role. Until the German redefined it in the 1970s, the ‘Libero’ or ‘Sweeper’, only served as a defensive cover. They operated behind the defensive line, primarily coming alive when the original backline was penetrated and a body was needed to protect the goalkeeper. Beckenbauer gave the role a new spin at Bayern Munich, adding attacking traits to it.

Instead of just sitting back and waiting to kick the ball away, Beckenbauer used his impeccable intelligence and ball-playing ability to drive into midfield. He would go on little adventures in every game, carrying the ball from defense to midfield, and even beyond at times. Teams rarely had an answer for ‘Der Kaiser’s’ driving runs down the middle, and, as a result, they were often outnumbered during a counter-attack.

Franz Beckenbauer: The Conqueror

Beckenbauer was a tactical mastermind, an impeccable ball player, and a fearless leader all rolled into one. His leadership and timely masterclasses instigated the golden eras of both the Bavarians and Die Mannschaft. He helped his country to the 1972 European Championship before guiding them to FIFA World Cup glory in 1974. At Bayern, he won three consecutive UEFA Champions League between 1974 and 1976, four Bundesliga titles, and four DFB Pokals.

Beckenbauer’s heroics deservedly won him two Ballon d’Or Awards in 1972 and 1976. In 2000, Germany honored him with the Footballer of the Century title.

Unsurprisingly, the Germany icon also had an impressive managerial career. In 1990, he took his country to the FIFA World Cup, becoming only the second player in history, behind Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, to win the esteemed trophy both as a player and manager. France’s Didier Deschamps joined the esteemed duo when France won the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

Beckenbauer also won it all as Bayern’s manager, including nine Bundesliga titles, a Champions League trophy, and six DFB Pokals, amongst others.

Franz Beckenbauer: The Immortal

Soccer has seen its fair share of great players over the years, but very few can hold a candle to the legendary ‘Der Kaiser’. He was more than a player. He was the embodiment of progress. Beckenbauer was aggressive without being brash. He was brilliant without being arrogant. He was a leader even without the armband, one who regularly inspired but never commanded.

The soccer community has lost one of its brightest stars, but the values he exemplified will live on forever in every player, manager, and spectator. They will keep us true and hopefully prevent the world’s game from surrendering its soul.

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