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Beckenbauer

Germany

Full name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
Date of birth: 11/09/1945
Position: Defender
International caps: 103
International goals: 14
World Cups: 1966 - Runners-up
1970 - Third place
1974 - Champions
European Footballer of the Year: 1972,1976
Clubs: Bayern Munich
New York Cosmos
SV Hamburg
New York Cosmos
1965-1977
1977-1980
1980-1982
1983-1983

Franz Beckenbauer was one of the most precocious players in European football. Tall and elegant, he was comfortable on the ball and in the air, hardly raising a sweat as he strolled almost arrogantly around the entire pitch. He was the world's first great attacking sweeper.

He joined the youth team at Bayern Munich in 1959 and by the time he made his international debut aged 20, in 1965, Beckenbauer was a regular in the Bundesliga.

Beckenbauer in his sweeping role

In the 1966 World Cup, Beckenbauer played in a defensive role. However, this didn't stop him from scoring, as he netting two in the opening game - a 5-0 hammering of Switzerland. As West Germany progressed in the competition, Beckenbauer scored once more, against Uruguay in the quarter final with a searing run, but his main job was to keep the goals out of the other end. In this, he was very successful, with West Germany only conceding two goals before the final. However, the German midfield had no real man markers, so when the coach wanted someone to constantly mark England's Bobby Charlton in the final, Beckenbauer was given the task. The players cancelled each other out of the game, which was a greater loss to Germany - England winning 4-2 after extra time.

One year after losing at Wembley, Beckenbauer captained Bayern Munich to victory over Rangers, in the European Cup Winners' Cup. Bayern went on to win the Bundesliga title for the first time the next season.

In the 1970 World Cup, West Germany stuttered through the group games and were to play England in the quarter finals. By this time, Beckenbauer had invented the role of sweeper, which liberated him from defence more often. Although he only scored one goal in the whole tournament, his forward thinking play helped the Germans to a crucial win. After going 2-0 down, it all looked like the Germans were facing a defeat at the hands of England again. However, Beckenbauer scored in the 67th minute with a powerful, long-range shot, and his team made a spirited comeback, eventually winning 3-2. The victory was hailed in Germany as a glorious achievement, but the triumph didn't last long, as they lost to Italy in the semi final 4-3 after extra time, Beckenbauer playing half the match with his arm in a sling. He then missed the third place play-off because of the injury (Germany's only World Cup game from 1966 to 1974 he didn't play in).

Beckenbauer lifting the world cup

The West Germans beat Russia to win the European Championships in 1972, after which their players were handed a 1-2-3 in the European Footballer of the Year Awards, with Beckenbauer coming top. In the 1974 World Cup, held in West Germany, the hosts and pre-tournament favourites made a slow start. However, by the second round group stage, the team was improved and "Der Kaiser", now the captain, was back to his imperious best. Some reports indicate that Beckenbauer may have headed a group of senior players who picked the team during the second round, and it worked. With the help of Beckenbauer's streaming runs from defence, West Germany won all three games, and had earned themselves a final place, against Cruyff's great Dutch team. After a goal by Holland in the first two minutes, it looked as though Total Football would finally pay off, but with Beckenbauer leading, the Germans broke down the Dutch to win 2-1 and Beckenbauer lifted the new FIFA trophy.

Having won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich for three seaons from 1972-74, Beckenbauer then won three consecutive European Cups with the team from 1974-76. In 1976, Beckenbauer won the European Footballer of the Year Award for the second time, was capped a record 103rd time by his country while they came second in the European Championships and then left Europe to ply his trade in the American Soccer League. He helped Pele's New York Cosmos win a clutch of honours (including the Soccer Bowl in 1977,78,80) before returning briefly to Germany with SV Hamburg. After winning the 1982 Bundesliga title, and a last season with Cosmos, Beckenbauer retired in 1983.

In 1984, he was appointed as manager of the West German national team and two years later, he guided an average squad to the World Cup final, where they lost to Argentina. They then won the European Championships in 1988 and in 1990, the final West German side before reunification reversed the previous World Cup final by beating Argentina. Beckenbauer became one of only two men to have won the World Cup as a player and as a coach (Brazilian Zagallo is the other).

After a short spell as manager at Marseilles, Beckenbauer returned to Bayern Munich as the executive vice president in 1993. He soon took over as coach and led the team to the Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA cup in 1996. He is now the President of the club, and was also instrumental in the German bid to host the 2006 World Cup.