Happy Birthday, Franz Beckenbauer! (Sept. 11, 1945)
September 11, 2007 11:26am CST
Franz Anton Beckenbauer (born September 11, 1945) is a German football coach, manager, and former player, nicknamed der Kaiser ("the emperor") because of his elegant style, his leadership qualities, his first name "Franz" (reminiscent of the Austrian emperors called Francis in English), and his dominance on the football pitch. He is generally regarded as the greatest German footballer of all time and also as one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game. He was a versatile player, who started out as midfielder but adapted to different roles on the pitch, and he is often credited as having invented the role of the modern sweeper or libero. Twice selected the European Footballer of the Year, he appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three World Cups. He lifted the World Cup trophy as captain in 1974, and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990. With the club Bayern Munich, he won three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976, and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1967. He went on to become coach and president of the institution. He is also a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was voted second place, behind Johan Cruijff in the European player of the Century election held by the IFFHS and he was voted third, behind Pelé and Johan Cruijff, in IFFHS' World Player of the Century election. Today, Beckenbauer remains an influential figure in both German and international football. He led Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup and chaired the organizing committee.