Beckenbauer, Franz

views updated May 17 2018

Franz Beckenbauer


German soccer player

Franz Beckenbauer is the only person who has won soccer's World Cup as team captain and as coach. Beckenbauer captained the former West Germany to the championship in 1974, and coached it to the top in 1990. Beckenbauer, who also played for the New York Cosmos when soccer interest in the United States began to rise in the mid-to-late seventies, is now president of one of Europe's top teams, Bayern Munich, after a successful stretch for that team as player, coach and general manager. He is also president of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup to be hosted in Germany.

Beckenbauer, credited with popularizing the "sweeper" defensive position and using it as a mode of counterattack, was also captain of the former West Germany's national team when it won the European Championship, and led Bayern Munich to three successive European Cups and the European Cup Winners' Cup. But there was an air about Beckenbauer that transcended championships. "Every movement he made on the pitch bristled with elegance," the International Football Hall of Fame wrote of Beckenbauer. "There was an arrogance in his

play that suggested he was always in command-'Emperor Franz' and 'The Kaiser," they called him. But more than that, he was a great thinker about the game and brought about a revolution in the way it is played by inventing the role of the attacking sweeper." Keir Radnedge wrote in The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Soccer. "He was the puppet master, standing back and pulling the strings which earned West Germany and Bayern Munich every major prize," he explains further.

Joined Bayern as a Teen

Beckenbauer was born in war-torn Munich in 1945, and joined with the youth team at Bayern Munich at age 14. Within three years, he surrendered his job as an insurance salesman trainee to pursue professional soccer. His arrival at the parent Bayern Munich club coincided with its ascension into the German elite league. The Bundesliga-Bayern had not been admitted when the Bundesliga (German soccer league) was formed in 1963. Beckenbauer started at the outside left forward position, but soon moved to midfield, and his play helped spark the West Germans to a 2-1 qualifying victory in the 1966 World Cup over Sweden.

First World Cup Final

During the World Cup in 1966, which England hosted, Beckenbauer scored four goals. He struck twice in a 5-0, early-round pasting of Switzerland, then scored the winner against the Soviet Union winning 2-1 in the semifinals, circling a shot around a Soviet defensive wall. In the finals, against England at historic Wembley Stadium in London, West German coach Helmut Schön had Beckenbauer play out of position, assigning him to mark British standout Bobby Charlton. For years, Schön has endured criticism for West Germany's 4-2 overtime defeat. "Experts felt that had he not been designated to mark Bobby Charlton, West Germany would have won that World Cup, as it was Charlton and Beckenbauer cancelled each other out and the rest is history," analyst Brian Beard wrote on the Web site Beckenbauer successfully stalked Charlton, who had scored two goals against Portugal in the semifinal, which took him out of the game offensively. England's Geoffrey Hurst, who scored three goals that day, had both in overtime after Wolfgang Weber tied the game for the Germans on a penalty kick late in regulation.

West Germany and England were not done with each other. They met again four years later, in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. This time the British were wide open to criticism. "With England leading 2-0, (Coach) Alf Ramsey inexplicably took Bobby Charlton off," Beard wrote. "Freed from the constraints of marking Charlton, Franz inspired a German comeback. He reduced the arrears with a long-range shot and, given fresh hope, West Germany went on to win 3-2." Italy eliminated the West Germans, 4-3 in the semifinal.

On Top of the World

West Germany, the host nation in 1974, overcame a bitter loss to East Germany in the first meeting between the two rival countries. Both teams were assured of advancing under the new tournament format, but the defeat prompted Beckenbauer to hold a team meeting, suggest lineup and strategy changes to Schön and even appear on national television to calm a skittish public. "When you are hosts, there is obviously twice the pressure, because everybody expects you to win," Beckenbauer said. In the final, at Olympic Stadium in Munich, West Germany drew powerful Holland, led by Johan Cruyff and Johann Neeskens. The Dutch scored before the Germans could even touch the ball-Neeskens converted a penalty kick two minutes into the contest. But West Germany rallied on first-half goals by Paul Breitner and Gerhard Müller for a 2-1 victory and its first World Cup championship since 1954. They were the only goals the Dutch allowed in the tournament. Beckenbauer and goalkeeper Sepp Maier effectively throttled the "Clockwork Orange," once Germany took the lead.

Sixteen years later, Beckenbauer coached the West Germans to another World Cup. By then the Berlin Wall had fallen and the 1990 tournament in Rome would feature the last pre-unification national team. Andreas Brehme's penalty kick gave the Germans a 1-0 win over Argentina in the title game after they eliminated England in a shootout in the semifinals. Beckenbauer joined Brazil's Mario Zagalo as having played for and coached a World Cup champion. (Beckenbauer was a captain, Zagalo wasn't.)

Across the Atlantic

In 1977, Beckenbauer signed with the New York Cosmos of the North Atlantic Soccer League. His teammates included the redoubtable Pele of Brazil and Giorgio Chinaglia of Italy, each of whom had achieved his own World Cup fame. Attendance soared as the Cosmos, playing in Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands sports complex, achieved worldwide recognition. Beckenbauer, who split his playing duties between midfield and defense, was the league's MVP in 1977 and the Cosmos were league champions in 1977, 1978 and 1980. He played one final season in New York in 1982 after returning to Germany and leading SV Hamburg to Bundesliga and German Cup titles.

Beckenbauer, as coach and later an executive with Bayern Munich, has helped the team retain its status among the European elites. He was also an effective power broker as Germany landed the 2006 World Cup. "Beckenbauer's charisma and political skills were instrumental in the triumph of the German bid," the news service Reuters wrote in 2000, when Germany edged South Africa in the voting.


Dirigent im Mittelfeld. (Title means "Conductor in the Centre Zone"), Munich, Germany: Copress-Verlag, 1966.

Gentleman am Ball (Title means "Gentleman on the Ball"), Rosenheim, Germany: Komar-Verlag, 1968.

Halbzeit: Eine Zwischen-Bilanz (Title means "Halftime: A Trial Balance"), Hannover, Germany: Strohte, 1971.

Einer Wie Ich (Title means "One Like Me"), Munich, Germany: Bertelesmann, 1975.


1945Born in Munich, Germany
1959Begins playing for the Bayern Munich youth team
1966Plays in first World Cup final as West Germany loses 4-2 in overtime to host England
1977-79Plays for New York Cosmos of North American Soccer League
1982Plays one final season for Cosmos after leading SV (Sport Verein-sport club) Hamburg to Bundesliga and German Cup titles
1986Coaches West Germany to World Cup title game, won by Argentina
2000Beckenbauer named chairman of 2006 World Cup organizing committee as Germany named host nation

Franz Beckenbauer's Soccer Power: Techniques, Tactics, Training, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978.

Awards and Accomplishments

1966Named West German footballer of the year after scoring four goals in World Cup tournament
1969Bayern Munich wins Bundesliga and German Cup titles
1972European Footballer of the Year as Bayern Munich wins European championship; Bayern also wins Bundesliga and German Cup titles
1973Bayern wins Bundesliga and German Cup titles
1974Leads West Germany, host nation that year, to first World Cup title; Germans defeat Holland 2-1 in final
1976European Footballer of the Year
1977North American Soccer League Most Valuable Player as member of New York Cosmos, who win NASL title in 1977 and 1978
1982Hamburg wins Bundesliga and German Cup titles



Hahn, James. Franz Beckenbauer: Soccer Superstar. St. Paul, Minn.: EMC Corp., 1978.

LeGoulven, Francis and Robert Ichah. Franz Beckenbauer: l'homme qui vaut 2 milliards (title means "Franz Beckenbauer: The Man Worth Two Billion."). Paris: PAC, 1977.

Radnedge, Keir. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Soccer: The Definitive Illustrated Guide to World Soccer. Rocklin, CA: Prima, 1994.

Thibert, Jacques. Beckenbauer: Kaiser Franz Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1975.


Beard, Brian. "The Greatest Ever, World Cup XI.", http:/, (December 17, 2002).

"Franz Beckenbauer: West Germany,", (December 22, 2002).

"Holland 1974 Home Page,", (December 17, 2002)

International Football Hall of Fame: Franz Beckenbauer Profile,, (December 15, 2002).

Sketch by Paul Burton

Beckenbauer, Franz

views updated May 14 2018

Beckenbauer, Franz (1945– ) German footballer. An attacking centre back, Beckenbauer was captain of the West German squad that won the 1974 World Cup and the Bayern Munich team that won the European Cup (1974–76). In 1990, as coach of the German national team, he became the only person to captain and manage a World Cup-winning team.

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