Created on 11-09-2020 at 09:30 AM
Today, 11 September, Franz Beckenbauer celebrates his 75th birthday. Der Kaiser stands like no other for a life spent in the service of FC Bayern and was instrumental in the club's rise from second-class to world-class status. That’s why fcbayern.com looks back on five special moments in the career of the German record champions‘ long-serving number 5.
#1 The 'Watschn'
In May 1964, Beckenbauer was promoted to the FC Bayern first team. However, it wasn’t the young Franz who set the decisive course that took him there and hence later onto a global career - nor his parents, nor a coach. The deciding factor was literally a ‘Watschn’, or slap. At the age of twelve, Beckenbauer was playing for SC 1906 from Obergiesing at a schoolboys’ tournament in the south-east of Munich. His opponents were the youngsters of TSV 1860 Munich - at that time still the number 1 in the city. As a highly talented youth player, Beckenbauer's move to the Lions was really a foregone conclusion. But in the heat of the moment one of his opponents slapped him in the face behind the referee's back. The boy who would later become der Kaiser was not going to put up with that, reconsidered and decided to join FC Bayern instead. In retrospect, the scene was a "ridiculous incident" for him - but it was precisely this that led to what is probably one of the most important transfers in the history of FCB.
#2 The birth of der Kaiser
Nowadays, it’s no longer possible to say exactly how Beckenbauer came to be nicknamed der Kaiser. Among other theories, the 1969 DFB Cup final against FC Schalke 04 is considered the founding myth of this legendary title. After Beckenbauer could only stop Schalke's Reinhard Stan Libuda, then known as the ‘King of Westphalia’, with a tug on his shorts, he was subsequently greeted with loud whistles by some of the 64,000 spectators at Frankfurt's Waldstadion every time he touched the ball. At some point, it all got a bit too much for Bayern’s Libero, who grabbed the ball and proceeded to provoke the Schalke supporters with a demonstration of keepie-uppy directly in front of their stand. His opponents allowed him to get on with it and afterwards the whistling gradually died down as the game progressed. After the end of the game the press were falling over themselves to praise him: Beckenbauer had triumphed over King Libuda - and the only person who could do that would be a Kaiser Franz.
#3 On top of the footballing world
In a career as full of silverware and honours as that of Franz Beckenbauer’s, it’s difficult to name just one highlight. However, the exceptional footballer was definitely on top of the footballing world in the summer of 1974. After winning the European Cup final against Atlético Madrid (centre photo), he also triumphed in the World Cup (right) with the German national team in Munich just a few weeks later. Since Germany were also the reigning European champions (1972, left), he was, together with teammates Katsche Schwarzenbeck, Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Sepp Maier and Uli Hoeneß, the holder of the three greatest titles that could be won as a European footballer. No player had ever managed this before - and Beckenbauer, as captain of the two winning teams, was also the player presented with the trophies.
#4 Return to the bench: Der Kaiser’s masterpiece
Franz Beckenbauer had already won the World Cup as a player and coach. In May 1994, he would also emulate that success by winning the Bundesliga. Yet the former boss of the German national team hadn’t wanted to return to the bench after his 1990 World Cup triumph. But ‘his’ Bayern needed him in the winter of 1993, when the record champions were languishing in fifth place - and thanks to der Kaiser, six months later, following a 2-0 win over FC Schalke 04 the men from Munich were able to hoist the Meisterschale again! And if proof was really needed that the so-called Lichtsgestalt, or shining light of German football could succeed at everything he touched, Beckenbauer went one better that evening. During the championship celebrations at the Nockherberg, a goal wall was set up and the main German TV sports programme Aktuelle Sportstudio joined the party, where the footballer of the century was due to demonstrate his skills live to the nation. Not just with any old penalty, of course - the ball was placed on top of a wheat beer glass and Beckenbauer still scored despite the disadvantage. "This man can do anything," said Dieter Kürten, the presenter, in amazement.
#5 The wake-up call en route to the 2001 Champions League triumph
As a professional footballer, you wouldn't want to hear a comparison like this about yourself - and you'd probably only put up with it from one person: "That was an Uwe Seeler veterans team, it was pure old-timers' football. We played football like they did 30 years ago." Franz Beckenbauer, then president of FC Bayern, had gathered the players of the German record champions together at the midnight banquet in March 2001. The Munich team had previously lost 3-0 to Olympique Lyon in the group stages of the Champions League and took Beckenbauer's rant to heart. "We swore to ourselves to come up with the right answer to that," said then captain Stefan Effenberg later and he kept his word. From there on, the Bavarians won all their remaining games in Europe's premier club competition and secured Ol’ Big Ears in the final by beating FC Valencia 5-4 on penalties.
Enjoy the best photos from der Kaiser’s impressive career in our gallery.