Franz Beckenbauer, one of football’s greatest players, has died aged 78.
Nicknamed “Der Kaiser”, he led West Germany to World Cup success as a captain in 1974 and manager in 1990.
He also won the European Championship in 1972 and went on to play 103 times for his country.
The former defender played 582 times for Bayern Munich. He won the Ballon d’Or twice.
A statement from his family 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.”
Beckenbauer’s health has declined since his son Stephan died in 2015. Franz had battled Parkinson’s disease, dementia and also underwent heart operations.
Match of the Day pundit Gary Lineker wrote on X: “One of the absolute greats of the game. Der Kaiser was one of the most beautiful of footballers who won it all with grace and charm. RIP.”
Playing as a midfielder, Beckenbauer man-marked Sir Bobby Charlton in the 1966 World Cup final, which England won 4-2.
He later joked: “England were only able to beat us in 1966 because Bobby Charlton was a little bit better than me.” The Germans got their revenge four years later in Mexico, coming from behind to beat England 3-2 in the quarter-finals.
Beckenbauer was one of only three players to triumph at the World Cup as manager and player along with Brazil star Mario Zagallo, who died on Saturday aged 92, and Didier Deschamps, of France.
As a defensive sweeper, he won four league titles with Bayern Munich and was captain for their three European Cup wins. He also won the Bundesliga with Hamburg in 1982.
Former Liverpool manager Sir Kenny Dalglish said: “It was a privilege to share one of my proudest moments with him when he presented my 100th cap for Scotland. My thoughts are with his family at this time. RIP Der Kaiser.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on social media that Beckenbauer “inspired generations of enthusiasm for German soccer. We will miss him.”
Beckenbauer came under fire for his role in bringing the 2006 World Cup to Germany through bribery, which he denied. The case ended without a judgment.
Beckenbauer’s health has gradually declined ever since his son Stephan died in 2015.
Since then the iconic former player and manager – nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’ – had battled Parkinson’s disease, dementia, as well as undergoing heart operations.