Franz Beckenbauer, who passed away at the age of 78, stands as one of the greatest footballers in the history of the sport.
With elegance and authority, whether in midfield or defense, “Der Kaiser” achieved the remarkable feat of winning the World Cup as both a player and a manager – a distinction shared by only two others.
Credited with pioneering the “attacking sweeper” role, Beckenbauer’s crowning moment as a player occurred in 1974. He captained the West Germany team in the World Cup final in Munich, triumphing over the formidable Dutch side led by Johan Cruyff.
Despite being formidable opponents themselves, the hosts faced a daunting challenge against the Netherlands, who were employing what later became known as “total football” and were considered clear favorites.
The Dutch took an early lead with a penalty in the second minute, awarded by English referee Jack Taylor, setting the stage for their anticipated victory. However, guided by Beckenbauer, the composed German team gradually regained control of the game. In the 25th minute, Paul Breitner, the team’s Maoist full-back, equalized with a penalty.
The Dutch, affected by overconfidence, suffered further when Gerd Muller scored for Germany in the 43rd minute. Frustration mounted, leading to Johan Cruyff receiving a booking for expressing his discontent to Taylor as the teams headed into halftime.
No additional goals were scored, and West Germany emerged victorious against the team that was consistently praised as the best never to win the World Cup. Sixteen years later, Beckenbauer found himself on the sidelines as West Germany faced Argentina in the 1990 final in Rome.
Despite being led by Diego Maradona, the opposing team couldn’t match the resilient Germans. A decisive Andi Brehme penalty secured the victory, prompting tears from Maradona as he witnessed the triumphant Germans receiving their medals.
This is a developing story that will be updated when more information is available.