Franz Beckenbauer began life as a stylish midfield player but eventually became known as one of the greatest defenders in football history. He is often credited with inventing the role of the modern sweeper or libero.
In his playing career, he was nicknamed Der Kaiser (“The Emperor”) because of his elegant style, dominance and leadership on the field, and also as his first name “Franz”, is reminiscent of the Austrian emperors. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. A versatile player who started out as a midfielder, Beckenbauer made his name as a central defender. He is often credited with having invented the role of the modern sweeper (libero).
He twice won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1972 and 1976. He was also selected as a centre-back in the World Team of the 20th Century and voted runner-up to Johan Cruyff as the European Player of the 20th Century.
He is one of three men, along with Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and France’s Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager; he lifted the World Cup trophy as captain in 1974 and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990.
He was the first captain to lift the World Cup and European Championship at the international level and the European Cup at the club level. He was named in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020, and in 2004 was listed in the FIFA 100 of the world’s greatest living players.
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At the club level with Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967 and three European Cups from 1974 to 1976. The latter feat made him the first player to win three European Cups as captain of his club. He became team manager and later president of Bayern Munich. After two spells with the New York Cosmos, he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.
He became manager of Bayern Munich in 1993 and led the club to the German League title in 1994. He was appointed president of the club the following year.
Franz’s leadership qualities were never more apparent than when he became president of the Organising Committee of the FIFA World Cup 2006. From the first presentation in the bidding process through to the final in Berlin in July, he worked for nine years on the tournament, which was hailed as one of the most enjoyable ever. It was fun-loving and friendly, a summer carnival, all backed by a great organisation.