Franz Beckenbauer dead: Germany and Bayern Munich football legend dies aged 78 | Football | Sport

Germany and Bayern Munich football legend Franz Beckenbauer has passed away aged 78, his family have confirmed. Beckenbauer, nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’ (The Emperor), is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, starting as a midfielder before revolutionising the centre-back position.

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 we are able to mourn in silence and you refrain from asking any questions.”

Beckenbauer earned 103 caps for the former West Germany and played at three World Cups, captaining his nation to glory in 1974 when they beat the Netherlands in the final.

He is one of just three individuals to have matched the feat as a manager, lifting the World Cup in 1990, joining Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and France’s Didier Deschamps.

The German legend also represented West Germany at two European Championships. He was the first captain to win the World Cup and European Championships for his country, and the European Cup at club level.

Beckenbauer enjoyed a 19-year-old senior club career after graduating from Bayern’s academy in 1964, going on to spend 13 of those years with the Bavarian giants.

He lifted 13 trophies for Bayern, including the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967 and three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976, becoming the first captain to do so.

Beckenbauer’s trophy cabinet from his Bayern days also featured four Bundesliga titles and four DFB-Pokals. He also had two spells at the New York Cosmos on either side of a two-year stint at Hamburger SV.

The icon paved the way for a new generation of defenders, often being credited as the inventor of the libero role, a role now more commonly known as a ball-playing centre-half.

Beckenbauer is one of just nine players to have won the World Cup, European Cup and the Ballon d’Or, and the only defender to have been awarded the latter twice.

Tributes have been pouring in after the news of Beckenbauer’s passing.

The Bundesliga’s official account wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “The Bundesliga family is devastated to learn of the death of Franz Beckenbauer. A true icon, then, now, and always. RIP, Der Kaiser.”

Borussia Dortmund posted: “Borussia Dortmund mourns the loss of a great German footballer. Rest in peace, Franz Beckenbauer. ‘The Emperor’ will forever be remembered. Our thoughts are with his family and all relatives.”

Gary Lineker hailed: “Very sorry to hear that Franz Beckenbauer has died. One of the absolute greats of our game. Der Kaiser was the most beautiful of footballers who won it all with grace and charm. RIP.”

While the Premier League penned: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Franz Beckenbauer, one of football’s greatest ever players. A World Cup winner as both player and manager, ‘Der Kaiser’ was as elegant as he was dominant. He will forever be remembered.”

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