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Franz Beckenbauer dies aged 78

Franz Beckenbauer

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died at the age of 78, his family have confirmed.

Beckenbauer was widely considered one of the best players of all time and is regularly heralded as the single best defender to have ever played the game.

After a bout of illness over the Christmas period, Beckenbauer’s family announced his death on Monday.

“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,” a family statement read. “We ask that you allow us to grieve in silence and refrain from asking any questions.”

Nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’, meaning ‘The Emperor’, Beckenbauer enjoyed a legendary career as a player with Bayern Munich, Hamburg and the New York Cosmos. His most notable club success came with Bayern, making 582 appearances for them – only four players have featured more in the Bavarians’ history – and winning 13 major honours.

At international level, Beckenbauer earned 103 caps with West Germany and was the captain of their 1974 World Cup-winning side.

After retiring from playing, Beckenbauer became West Germany manager in 1984. He won the World Cup as a coach in 1990 and is one of only three men – the others being Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, who died last week, and France’s Didier Deschamps – to win the World Cup as both a player and manager.

Beckenbauer also had brief managerial stints with Marseille and Bayern before stepping away from management altogether in 1996. He later became vice-president of the German FA and headed their successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup. FIFA investigated a bribery case against Beckenbauer over this bid but their ethics committee closed a five-year investigation in 2021 after the statute of limitation expired.

During his retirement, Beckenbauer also spent time as a commentator for high-profile German outlet BILD.