The Best: Franz Beckenbauer

Born: Munich 11 September 1945

Position: Defender

Club(s): Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV, New York Cosmos

Country: West Germany

International Caps: 103

International Goals: 14

Der Kaiser was an intelligent gifted footballer that revolutionised the art of defending whilst playing as a centre back for the great West German and Bayern Munich teams of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Off the ball, his tendency to read the play before it happened made him into one of the greatest sweepers the world has seen. In possession, his ability to carry the ball into midfield and ‘make things happen for his own team’ made him into one of the great libero’s of all time.

A defender who could defend, but also with a powerful midfield engine that could get him forward and into his fair share of goals through an accurate venomous shot. There have been few defenders like him because few have had the ability to anticipate danger and start off attacks in the way that Beckenbauer did.

A reason for this perhaps was because Beckenbauer actually started off as a striker. He made his Bayern Munich debut in 1964 aged 18 playing in the second tier of West German football and scored 17 goals in the clubs promotion campaign often playing in the forward line.

Beckenbauer later began to play more defensively for both Bayern and West Germany and made his World Cup debut in 1966 eventually going on to play in the final scoring four goals in the tournament.

At Bayern Beckenbauer would captain one of the great sides that would go on to dominate football domestically and in Europe with 4 league titles 4 DFB Pokals 3 European Cups and a Cup Winners Cup in little over ten years.

For Germany, Beckenbauer would remarkably play on despite dislocating his collar during the 1970 world cup semi-final against Italy and two years later would win his first piece of silverware as captain of the European Championships winning team.

In 1974 Beckenbauer led West Germany to World Cup glory on home soil after beating Netherlands in the final 2-1.

Like many of that era, Beckenbauer moved to the United States and appeared for New York Cosmos alongside the likes of Pele in 1977 before shortly returning to Hamburg where he won the Bundesliga for a fifth time. After returning to New York Cosmos he retired in 1983 before becoming Manager of the West German National team in 1984.

And the success didn’t end there. In 1990 Beckenbauer became one of only two men to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, as he lead West Germany to the title in Italy. Managing Marseille a year later he won a French League title before going on to manage Bayern Munich winning the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup completing a unique hat-trick of European Trophies for his cabinet.

Beckenbauer was until recently a long term president of Bayern Munich and will always be remembered as a football legend that won near everything there is to win.

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