By 90Min
April 01, 2018

Der Kaiser - The Emperor; a nickname given to Franz Beckenbauer in accreditation of his on-field leadership qualities. 

Statistically, the German is held in high esteem due to being one of only two men to have lifted FIFA's most decorated prize as both player and manager; however, it was not solely the silverware he held aloft that forged his career of greatness, but also a combination of everything in between. 

However, had one particular contest during his days in youth football not been marred with ill-temper, and had the now-72-year-old surrendered to his father's wishes as a child, the sport may never have been blessed with the pre-eminent defender. 

Born out of the post-war ruins in Munich, Beckenbauer, the second son of postal-worker Franz Beckenbauer, Sr. and his wife Antonie, grew up in the working-class district of Giesing, where, despite his parents' cynicism of the beautiful game, he started out on his footballing life with SC Munich '06 in 1954. 

Idolising Fritz Walter; the captain of the German World Cup winning side of the same year, the nine-year-old boy initially adopted the role of striker; a position he would go on to hold until his latter teenage years. 

But before making his debut for Bayern Munich in June 1964, there was one youth level match that would define his career. In 1959, rather than joining his boyhood team and the city's dominant force, 1860 Munich, Beckenbauer opted to seek out his professional career with today's Bundesliga superpower. 

The decision, initially, came as a result of a lack of financial backing within 1860's developmental ranks. However, he and a group of his teammates opted to switch allegiances at the end of their season, only to come to blows with his future affiliates in an Under-14 tournament in nearby Neubiberg; catalysing the collection to go back on their plans. 

Beckenbauer's decision to remain at Bayern would go on to shape his future path as one of the sport's greatest, as well as afford the Bavarians the opportunity to create a legacy like no other Bavarian side. 

However, it was 1966 where football on its grandest stage was introduced to Der Kaiser; featuring in the World Cup for the first time at the age of just 20. Die Mannschaft breezed through to the final but came undone by the English on home soil. The German's had fallen at the final hurdle, but on return to their homeland received a heroes' welcome, with Beckenbauer, in particular, hailed for finishing tied for third on the list of top scorers - from a non-attacking position.

But it was the eight years that followed which truly defined the centre-back as one of international football's greats. 

Mexico played host to the 1970 World Cup, and after dismissing those West Germany faced in the opening three contests, a rerun of the 1966 final awaited. England stormed to a 2-0 lead and maintained their advantage until the second-half, in which the defender netted a spectacular striker to offer his side hope; something they went to take full advantage of by eventually slipping past the Three Lions, somewhat ironically, in extra-time. 


Die Mannschaft's reward for overcoming Alf Ramsey's men was a contest with Italy in the semi-final; a tie which would go on to be known as the 'Game of the Century'. Azzurri took the lead early on, and it looked as though the bout was to be settled through Roberto Boninsegna's strike until the final minute of regulation time when Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalised. 

A following 30-minute goal feast laid in store for those watching on; however, the eventual 4-3 loss for West Germany epitomised Beckenbauer, who, after dislocating his shoulder as a result of a hard Italian challenge, trundled off the pitch having completed a significant portion of the 120 minutes in a sling. Again, the Germans had come close to their prize, but success eluded them. 

That was until 1972, where West Germany, now captained by Der Kaiser, lifted their first international trophy in 18 years; the European Championship. A comfortable 3-0 win over the Soviet Union in the final offered the perfect prelude to the Nationalelf's world success two years later. 

And it was in the self-hosted tournament in 1974 which saw Beckenbauer become the first captain to lead a nation to the titles of both champions of Europe as well as the world; only a feat mimicked twice since; France in 2000 and Spain in 2010. But The Emperor had not only taken his country to a level not witnessed since the fallout of the Second World War but had defeated the Johan Cruyff-starring, hotly tipped Netherlands in order to become the inaugural leader to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy as we know it today. 

In 1976, in an attempt to retain the European Championship trophy, West Germany were defeated by Czechoslovakia on penalties in the final - a contest which would prove to be the centre-back's last international tournament as a player. However, his love affair with football on the world's stage was not through, as in 1990, the final competition before West Germany's reunification with East Germany, Beckenbauer became the first man to lift the World Cup as both a player and a manager. 

After his coaching career came to an end, in which he secured the Bundesliga title and the UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich, Der Kaiser took up the presidential role with his former club, taking them through the stages of disbanding their association tag to become a limited company. In 2009, the Bavarian legend stood down from his role, allowing long-term general manager Uli Hoeneß the opportunity to take the reigns. 

But during his tenure within the club's hierarchy, Beckenbauer played an important role in securing the 2006 World Cup for Germany. However, it is those dealings during that time which still leave him a target in FIFA's current corruption scandal investigation. 

Despite that, to this day, Die Mannschaft, or in fact any other nation in the world are yet to find another Der Kaiser, and the young boy who disobeyed his father's wishes to become one of football's most influential figures will live on forever as one of the sport's true greats, no matter what. 

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