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Franz Beckenbauer

‘Bayern Munich’s greatest-ever personality’

What would Bayern be without Franz Beckenbauer? There would certainly be less silverware in the trophy cabinet. The Allianz Arena would probably not have been built. The likes of Robben and Ribéry might well never have come to the club. Although these are matters for conjecture, the significance of the 64-year-old’s contribution to Germany’s most successful club is hard to express in mere trophies and statistics. “Franz Beckenbauer is far and away the greatest personality Bayern Munich has ever had in its ranks,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge summarised, “he has shaped Bayern’s history like no other.”

For 51 years, Beckenbauer has held sway over “his” FC Bayern as a player, coach and President, before he stepped down from the highest office at the club in favour of Uli Hoeneß at last November’s AGM. “His achievements extend to every area of the club, which is extraordinary,” Rummenigge said. On Friday, 33 years after Beckenbauer the player temporarily left Bayern, the club will stage a delayed and “long overdue” farewell match for its most famous son.

Beckenbauer’s departure in 1977 was the only time he has ever quit the cub in his life. Sensing the imminent end of his playing career, he opted for a switch to New York Cosmos, although the transfer was in doubt until the last minute. The then 31-year-old salvaged the deal by chipping in some of his own money. “I had to find 400,000 Marks,” he recalled at the AGM last autumn, just after being named honorary captain of the club. “I thought I was about to get the 400,000 Marks back. But I’m entirely happy with the title of honorary captain too.”