In the world of football, the name Franz Anton Beckenbauer is regarded as one of the greatest of all time. From his senior team debut in 1964, he was in the spotlight until his retirement in 1977. Be it for the club team Bayern Munich, or national side Germany (was known as West Germany at that time), whenever he set foot on the pitch, he was always the center of attraction in his era. He started his career as a midfielder but later became a defender. He was a genuine fighter, a natural leader, and was regarded as a style icon at that time both on and off the field.
“I once saw Franz Beckenbauer enter a restaurant and he did it the same way he played football: with class and authority.”Brian Clough, Former English Footballer
From this, you can probably imagine the charismatic personality he had and what was his impression on other people. In recent times, players like David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo are famous for their brand value and style icon. But at his time, Franz Beckenbauer was in a league of his own – be it as a player on the field or as an icon off the field.
Glimpse of A glorious career : The Fighter
Beckenbauer can be described as a true ‘One club man’. He was promoted from Bayern Munich’s youth team in 1964 and played for them till 1977 and after that, he joined New York Cosmos. Later he came back to Germany and joined Hamburger SV for one season before retiring in1983. His career is full of glorious chapters and numerous achievements. Initially, he started as a midfielder, but later he made his name playing as a defender.
To be precise, he was a sweeper or ‘Libero‘. He was gifted with a great vision and with that he always established his authority over the game. He also possessed a very good distributing and tackling abilities as well, which made him a great sweeper. It is said that he always knew the position of his other teammates and controlled the game by knowing how, when and where to play the ball. His game reading ability was second to none.
“He was the puppet master, standing back and pulling the strings which earned West Germany and Bayern Munich every major prize.”Keir Radnedge, Editor of the World Soccer magazine, and a highly respected football journalist
Beckenbauer played 545 matches for Bayern Munich. Despite being a defender he has 58 goals and 73 assists in his name for Bayern. He has won European Cup three times (Currently known as UEFA Champions League) and the German league title five times. He has also won the German cup four times. He played in 3 editions of the World Cup for West Germany from 1966 to 1974 and won the trophy in 1974 as captain. Even he was the first captain to lift both World Cup and Euro Cup (won in 1972). Other than team achievements, he has also won Ballon d’Or twice (1972, 1976). He was always the key man behind every success of Germany and Bayern Munich.
“He was a great player, very positive, very fast and always dangerous. So it was my job to stop him in 1966 and 1970. He was the most dangerous player they had. He could do extraordinary things with his pace, control and ability, but if someone ran with him all the time it seemed to limit his danger.”Sir Bobby Charlton
In his career, the most famous match he played was probably in World Cup Semi-Final, 1970. The match is known as ‘The Game of The Century’ where West Germany faced Italy in front of 102,444 spectators at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca. In the 70th minute of the game with The Azzurri leading 1-0, Beckenbauer was the victim of a nasty foul from Italian defender Pierluigi Cera. It caused him a broken collarbone and a dislocated shoulder.
Although it seemed impossible to continue playing for him under these circumstances, he chose not to leave the field as West Germany had already used up two substitutes. He continued playing with sheer determination, courage and dedication but his side lost the match in extra time. Although Beckenbauer and his team failed to win the match, the tales of his heroics are written in Golden words forever which has inspired many generations and will continue to do so in coming days as well.
The Story behind the name ‘Der Kaiser’
“No one ever got past Franz.”Gerd Muller, German footballer and former teammate of Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer was nicknamed as ‘Der Kaiser‘ during his playing career and he is famous by that name even today. The German term ‘Der Kaiser’ means ‘The Emperor‘ in English. The first name of Beckenbauer is ‘Franz’ which is also reminiscent of the Austrian emperor. In the late 1960s, the media started to use the nickname ‘Kaiser Franz’. He got this name mainly because his leadership quality and the supreme authority he used to display on the field.
Beckenbauer was at the top of his game till the very end of his career and is still regarded as arguably the best ‘Libero’ of all time. To be able to play equally good as a defender and a midfielder is quite a feat and he has achieved everything a football player can possibly win. He was truly ‘The Emperor’ of football who concurred everything. To end it in a single sentence, it is perfectly described by one of his former teammates.
What’s your opinion about Franz Beckenbauer aka Der Kaiser as a player ? Let us know in the comment section below.