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Friday, December 21, 2001
World Cup Legends - Franz Beckenbauer
By John Brewin

Though the West Germany team are often portrayed as the bad guys in defeating Holland in the 1974 final, there can be little doubt about the quality of the victors. And even with players of the talent of Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeness, it was 'Kaiser' Franz Beckenbauer who stood out.

Franz Beckenbauer, Helmut Schoen, World Cup Final 1974
West German coach Helmut Schoen congratulates his onfield leader after winning the final in 1974
(HultonArchive/Allsport)
Beckenbauer's talents bestrode three tournaments. In 1966 he was the young player of the tournament as West Germany reached the finals.

Playing as an attacking midfielder the 20-year-old scored the decisive goal in the semi-final against the USSR but was asked to play a man-marking role on Bobby Charlton. Charlton was successfully shackled but the Germans lost with one of their most devastating attacking weapons severely restricted.

Four years later, Beckenbauer had been withdrawn to the libero role with which he will forever be associated.

Nevertheless, even from that defensive role he had his revenge on England, scoring the first goal in a two-goal comeback that eventually ousted England in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-final just days later Italy ran out 4-3 winners in a thrilling extra-time match but Beckenbauer confirmed his heroic status by playing on, heavily strapped-up with a dislocated shoulder.

By 1974, Beckenbauer was the experienced elder statesman, marshalling his troops from the back. Using the traditional system of playing their best player at the back, the Germans benefitted from Beckenbauer's calmness on the ball, his charges down the middle and his pinpoint passes.

As Germany's greatest ever skippers, he can also be regarded as one his country's greatest ever managers, having led the Germans to World Cup triumph in 1990, becoming the first man to captain and coach his team to the highest footballing accolade of all.

 

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