A sombre night of reflection and mourning ended with an inevitable Harry Kane goal.
Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga clash with Hoffenheim was overshadowed by emotional and heartfelt tributes to one of their own – the late, great Franz Beckenbauer.
Since his passing last weekend at the age of 78, the footballing world has grieved the loss of a true great – a man who won the World Cup both as a player and a manager.
And before their first match since the sad news, Bayern produced a respectful and classy send-off in front of a packed-out Allianz, including Beckenbauer’s friends and family.
On the pitch, it was business as usual for the reigning German champions, attempting to chase down Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen – seeing off 10-man Hoffenheim thanks largely to a double from former England U21 star Jamal Musiala.
After each of the goals, Beckenbauer’s 1960s song “Gute Freunde” belted from the speakers and was sung straight back.
And then came Kane, having a rare off night for a man in incredible form with 21 league goals in 15 appearances for Bayern, but still managed to make more history by matching Robert Lewandowski’s feat of 22 strikes in the first 16 games of a Bundesliga season.
However, this result was merely a sideshow amid the backdrop of Beckenbauer’s last goodbye.
Five-and-a-half hours before kick-off, hundreds of fans gathered at the Allianz for an intimate memorial inside the ground, alongside former teammates of the three-time European Cup winner.
The stadium’s famous digital shell – normally lit up completely red – had the addition of “Danke, Franz” appear in large, black letters.
For this summer’s Euros, there are talks over whether the Allianz should briefly be renamed “The Franz Beckenbauer Stadium”. Fitting, seeing as he helped build both Bayern and Germany from the ground up with his unrivalled footballing talent.
There were plenty more heart-warming little touches – Bayern warmed up in special jerseys with No.5 on the back, as well as on their retro walk-out tracksuits.
Both sets will be signed and auctioned off for the Beckenbauer Foundation.
The minute’s silence before kick-off – held across every Bundesliga game this week – was immaculate and spinetingling.
A banner read: “The figure of light goes on its final journey – rest in peace, emperor”.
The atmosphere in the early stages was understandably subdued, and Bayern were perhaps lucky to come away with a narrow, crucial victory – Hoffenheim blowing several chances before having a man sent off.
But in the grand scheme of things, this was not about anything other than remembering a man whose legacy is etched in Bayern’s past, present and future.