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Passing of Franz Beckenbauer, 78, a prominent figure in Bayern Munich, Germany

Franz Beckenbauer, a player and coach who achieved World Cup victory with West Germany and was considered one of the most outstanding footballers of all time, has passed away at the age of 78.

German news agency DPA reported that the family confirmed Beckenbauer’s demise through a statement.

“With profound sorrow, we announce the peaceful passing of my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, in his sleep on Sunday, surrounded by his family,” the family expressed.

“We request privacy as we grieve and ask for no inquiries at this time.”

Beckenbauer, a native of Munich, influenced German football as a player, coach, and official. His grace and leadership skills on the field with Bayern Munich and his nation earned him the moniker “Der Kaiser,” which means “The Emperor.” Pelé hailed him as “one of the finest I ever witnessed.”

He secured the Ballon d’Or awards in 1972 and 1976 and was named Germany’s Footballer of the Century in 2000. He was honored with the FIFA Centennial Player and Football Personality Award in 2004.

Beckenbauer redefined the role of the Libero, the unrestrained player behind the defensive lines who dictated the tempo of the game.

Captaining Germany in 103 matches between September 1965 and February 1977, he led the “golden generation” of Germany to victory at the 1972 European Championship and also the 1974 World Cup on home soil.

Beckenbauer is among the three individuals to have won the World Cup both as a player and a coach, alongside Mário Zagallo with Brazil and Didier Deschamps with France.

At the club level in Germany, he clinched three European Cups, a European Cup Winners’ Cup, five Bundesliga titles, and four German cups with Bayern Munich and Hamburg.

In a statement, Bayern lamented: “The world of FC Bayern is now a different place — abruptly darker, quieter, and poorer.

“Germany’s record champions mourn the loss of Franz Beckenbauer, the exceptional ‘Kaiser,’ without whom Bayern would never have evolved into the club it is today.”

Uli Hoeness, Bayern’s honorary president who played alongside Beckenbauer for both club and country, remarked: “Franz Beckenbauer is the most eminent figure FC Bayern has ever witnessed. As a player, coach, president, individual: unforgettable. Nobody will ever be his equal.”

After his tenure at Bayern, Beckenbauer transferred to New York Cosmos in 1977, signifying the conclusion of his international career.

During his time in the U.S., he secured three North American Soccer League titles alongside Pelé.

Beckenbauer returned to Germany in 1980, securing his final trophy as a player with Hamburg and retiring from professional football a day after his 38th birthday in 1983, following another brief stint with the Cosmos.

The next year, Beckenbauer assumed the role of the Germany head coach, reaching two World Cup finals and orchestrating a 1-0 triumph over Argentina in the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy.

Rudi Völler, the director of the senior national team of the German Football Association (DFB) and forward in the triumphant 1990 World Cup team, stated: “It is one of the great privileges of my life to have known and experienced Franz Beckenbauer.

“Our time with the national team culminated in the 1990 World Cup victory in Rome, a feat that would have been impossible without his exceptional coaching performance.

“German football loses its most eminent figure in Franz Beckenbauer — and I, a dear friend.”

Lothar Matthäus, the captain of the 1990 side, mentioned: “The shock runs deep, even though I was aware that Franz wasn’t in great health. His passing is a loss for football and for the entire Germany. He was an exceptional player and coach, both on and off the field.”

Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, paid homage to Beckenbauer on X, previously known as Twitter, labeling him as one of Germany’s finest footballers ever, who inspired German football for many generations.

Beckenbauer clinched the French league title as the Marseille coach the subsequent year and added two more trophies in two subsequent periods back at Bayern in the same decade.

He served as the president of Bayern, departing from the position in 2009, and as an official, contributed to Germany securing the rights to host the 2006 World Cup, traveling across the country by helicopter to attend 46 of the 64 matches played.

In 2015, Beckenbauer denied allegations of vote buying in the bidding process for the 2006 tournament after reports suggested that a slush fund of £4.8 million ($6.1m) had been utilized to secure votes for Germany.

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