Franz Beckenbauer is a German footballer who began his professional playing career as a forward and midfielder. In switching to defense, he changed soccer forever, becoming the greatest defender in history and inspiring countless players worldwide to follow in his footsteps.
Who Was Franz Beckenbauer?
On September 11, 1945, Franz Anton Beckenbauer was born in Munich, Germany. He had been playing for youth teams since the age of six and attracting the attention of scouts. As a result, he had been able to sign for the Bayern Munich youth team by the age of fourteen.
Franz Beckenbauer, who grew up in post-war Germany, looked up to Fritz Walter, a forward who had led West Germany to victory at the 1954 World Cup. Using the skills he developed as a midfielder and later a defender, Beckenbauer revolutionized the role of the defender similar to Fritz Walter.
What Made Franz Beckenbauer So Special?
Franz Beckenbauer was a sweeper-defender, a role he didn’t create, but he improved upon and made his own. A sweeper would sweep up the ball after it had gone beyond the defense, thereby putting himself as the last line of defense and doing a heroic job of keeping attackers at bay.
It was also the sweeper’s responsibility to advance up and down the field, moving as far forward as the defensive midfielder position and as far back as the position just in front of the goalkeeper. Beckenbauer took advantage of this to boss the defense.
In addition to being a great tackler and defender, he was adept with the ball at his feet. Due to his ability to dribble, pass, tackle, and head, he excelled in this role, which wasn’t found in many other defenders.
Beckenbauer was a youth player for Bayern Munich, then moved to the senior squad when he was 19 and made his debut in 1964 as a left-winger. Four years in the first-team squad, Franz Beckenbauer became Bayern Munich’s captain and was credited with the team’s success in the German Cup and the Cup Winners’Winners’ Cup.
In addition, he began exploring the role of “sweeper” around this time. A natural winger who was comfortable on the soccer ball could advance forward and defend as well. Again, Beckenbauer was perfect for the position. He fit right in, becoming an infinitely better player as part of a Bayern Munich team that won several league titles.
In 1972, 1973, and 1974, Bayern Munich won successive league championships thanks to Franz Beckenbauer. A Bayern title had been unattainable for over 35 years before their success in 1968 and 1969.
Bayern Munich went through their first golden age under Beckenbauer, and he essentially kickstarted a winning habit they never lost. In addition to winning three domestic titles, Beckenbauer’s Bayern won three European Cup titles from 1973 to 1976, something even the modern Bayern hasn’t been able to accomplish.
During his career with the German champions from 1964 to 1977, Franz Beckenbauer played 439 games. The German star won two Ballon d’Orsd’Ors and four German Footballer of the Year honors. Furthermore, he scored 64 goals, including free kicks and shots outside the penalty area.
He went on to help the New York Cosmos win three North American Soccer League titles, and two Trans-Atlantic Cups before his playing career came to an end.
Franz Beckenbauer ended his club career in 1983 after playing 572 games, scoring 83 goals, and receiving many awards and medals.
The German national team also won the 1974 World Cup and the 1972 Euros while Beckenbauer was captain of Bayern Munich. For a country with 50 years of golden ages, West Germany’s 1970s team was one of the greatest ever.
After helping West Germany reach the 1966 and 1976 World Cup finals, Beckenbauer retired from international football at the tender age of thirty-one. Few players have achieved the feat of appearing in three World Cup finals, and although he could have played on for another few years, he felt his time on the world’s biggest stage was over.
Beckenbauer won the Best Young Player award, the World Cup Bronze Boot, and the Silver Ball during his time with the German national team during the World Cup. He also appeared in three World Cup All-Star Teams, 1 FIFA XI, and the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team.
The Legacy Of Franz Beckenbauer
Germany and other top teams utilized the sweeper role throughout the years, and they all sought players with the same versatility Beckenbauer possessed. The position was crucial for Greece’s Euro 2004 squad, the same squad that surprised everyone by winning the tournament despite being the improbable favorites.
In the modern game of soccer, this role has somewhat diminished. Coaches and managers today rely on the offside trap rather than playing sweeper. Franz Beckenbauer, however, is still an inspiration to many greats in modern soccer, including Sergio Ramos. Whether he knows it or not, the latter has adopted some of his techniques from this great German.
It’sIt’s usually the tricky midfielders and prolific strikers who score all the goals, so Franz Beckenbauer might be overlooked when discussing the greatest footballers in history. However, most soccer fans around the world believe Beckenbauer is the greatest defender ever, so he deserves a spot on any Best Eleven.
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