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Franz Beckenbauer: Germany football legend dies aged 78

Franz Beckenbauer won the World Cup with West Germany as a captain in 1974 and a manager in 1990; Beckenbauer, nicknamed 'Der Kaiser', is a Bayern Munich legend; a Beckenbauer family statement read he "passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday, Sunday, surrounded by his family"

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78
Image: German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78

Franz Beckenbauer, one of the greatest football players of all time, has died at the age of 78.

Beckenbauer, nicknamed 'Der Kaiser', won the World Cup with West Germany as captain in 1974 and a manager in 1990.

The former defender is one of three men, along with Brazil's Mario Zagallo - who passed away this month - and France's Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager.

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Germany and World Cup football legend Franz Beckenbauer was a true icon - as a player, a manager and as a figurehead for Bayern Munich

Beckenbauer also won the European Championship in 1972 and played 103 times for West Germany.

At club level, Beckenbauer is considered a Bayern Munich legend having won three successive European Cups with the German giants from 1974-76 along with four Bundesliga titles. He played 582 times for Bayern.

Beckenbauer also managed Bayern to Bundesliga glory in 1994 and a UEFA Cup triumph in 1996.

Bayern Munich will light up their Allianz Arena home in honour of Beckenbauer over the coming days and have a "special illumination" during their next match on Friday against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

A family statement read: "It is with deep sadness that we announce that my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday, Sunday, surrounded by his family.

"We ask that you be able to grieve in silence and refrain from asking any questions."

Beckenbauer was famed for carving out his own role as a sweeper - now often known as a "Libero" - sitting slightly behind his team's defensive line and sweeping up any man or ball that broke through.

Beckenbauer also won an array of personal honours, including two Ballon d'Or awards in 1972 and 1976 as a defender - a rarity at the time and still to this day.

'Beckenbauer was an outstanding personality'

Franz Beckenbauer

Eight years before winning the World Cup as a player, Beckenbauer narrowly missed out on lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley, with England clinching an extra-time victory in the 1966 World Cup final.

It was in that final that he was told to man-mark England star Bobby Charlton, pitting two of the world's greatest footballers on on one.

In the end, they cancelled each other out, and it was Geoff Hurst who starred, scoring a hat-trick to help England to a famous victory.

"The message he [Beckenbauer] sent out was: 'Don't even try it. Coming out to face me is a waste of your time'," Charlton later said of their match-up.

Beckenbauer scored four goals at the 1966 World Cup aged just 20 and was awarded the best young player of the tournament.

Lothar Matthaus captained Germany's 1990 World Cup-winning side and paid tribute to his former manager and friend.

"The shock is deep, even though I knew that Franz wasn't feeling well. His death is a loss for football and for Germany as a whole," Matthaus told German media outlet Bild.

"He was one of the greatest as a player and coach, but also off the field. Franz was an outstanding personality not only in football, and he enjoyed worldwide recognition.

"Everyone who knew him knows what a great and generous person Franz was. A good friend left us. I will miss him - we will all miss him."

FILED - 09 July 1990, Italy, Rom: On the plane returning from Rome to Frankfurt, former DFB team manager Franz Beckenbauer (l), captain and midfielder Lothar Matth'us (M) and defender Andreas Brehme, who scored the decisive goal, present the World Cup trophy. Franz Beckenbauer is dead. The German soccer legend died on Sunday at the age of 78, his family told the German Press Agency on Monday. Photo by: Wolfgang Eilmes/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Image: Beckenbauer (left) celebrates West Germany's 1990 World Cup with captain Lothar Matthaus (centre)

The German Football Association (DFB) paid tribute to Beckenbauer as someone who "influenced football in Germany like no other".

'Beckenbauer will forever remain the shining light of German football'

DFB director of the senior national team Rudi Voller also played under Beckenbauer in 1990.

"I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have known and experienced Franz Beckenbauer," Voller said on the official DFB website.

"Our time together with the national team was crowned with the 1990 World Cup title in Rome, a title that would never have been possible without his outstanding coaching performance.

"The 'Kaiser' was an inspiration for more than one generation, he will forever remain the shining light of German football.

"With Franz Beckenbauer, German football is losing its greatest personality, I am losing a good friend."

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann hailed Beckenbauer as "the best footballer in German history".

Nagelsmann added: "His interpretation of the role of the libero changed the game, this role and his friendship with the ball made him a free man.

"Franz Beckenbauer was able to float on the lawn, as a footballer and later also as a coach he was sublime, he stood above things.

"When Franz Beckenbauer entered a room, the room lit up, he rightly earned the title 'lighting figure of German football'.

"An aura surrounded him until the end, which even the health problems and strokes of fate that he had to cope with could not shake it.

"I am grateful and proud that I was able to get to know him and will remember him fondly."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: "Franz Beckenbauer: a legend of German and world football.

"'Der Kaiser' was a really great person, a friend of football, a champion and a real legend. We will never forget you, dear Franz."

'Beckenbauer one of the really great football names of the last century'

Sky Sports News' Nick Powell:

"I think it's fair to put him up there in the echelons of Bobby Charlton, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff. The really great football names of the last century.

"He had been ill for several months and one of his former team-mates Lothar Matthaus expressed some months ago that he hoped he would get well again, but without sounding confident that it would happen.

"This is not a shock in Germany, but it is the lead story on every German news outlet. As a player, he was a phenomenon, because he pretty much invented the role of the sweeper who came out with the ball as the centre-back.

"We see it now, but they didn't then. He could spray a ball short or long and had a great eye for a pass. In a sense, he invented that position and it's hard to imagine now what a rarity that was.

"Without sounding too cliched, he played at a time when centre-backs were expected to be big, rough blokes. They headed it and kicked it. They were rough and tough and no one worried if it went into Row Z.

"Franz Beckenbauer thought they could do better than that."

'He was one of the most charming men you'll ever meet'

Jan Age Fjortoft, who worked with Beckenbauer at Sky in Germany:

"It's a very sad day. This is one of the great football icons of all time. I think Sir Bobby Charlton, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff join him in the starting XI in heaven.

"He is one of the greatest and I had the privilege of working with him for three years with Sky Germany.

"They say you should never meet your favourites and your legends but he was one of the most charming men you will ever meet. He was humble, he shared his knowledge.

"He was one of those that you wanted to sit next to, because you know his analysis was always spot on. Even if it wasn't, it didn't matter because this was the Kaiser, this was the King.

"You tried to pick his brain and listen to everything he said. He was a fantastic man.

"He was man of the match without needing a shower because he was always in the right position."

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