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Happy Birthday, Franz Beckenbauer!

A momentous role in Bayern’s history

Just a week before his 70th birthday Franz Beckenbauer dropped in to the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt, and as always his presence was an upbeat, charming occasion, with a word of thanks here and an anecdote there. The man whose milestone 70th birthday falls on 11 September 2015 arguably embodies the spirit and values of FC Bayern more than anyone else.

Ironically enough, one of the great FC Bayern careers was initiated by fierce city rivals TSV 1860: a slap from a player in blue during a youth match prompted Beckenbauer to join Bayern’s schoolboy section in 1958. Six years later, in summer 1964, he inked his first contract with the Reds and as he was still a minor, his signature was next to those of his parents.

It goes without saying that the vast collection of trophies and honours he collected in the course of his playing career for Bayern are on display at the FCB Erlebniswelt, but there are plenty of other mementoes and Kaiser-related exhibits too. Many of them are currently part of “Kaiser. Kalle. Bomber.”, the special exhibition dedicated to three of the greatest personalities in the history of the club and running through to the end of 2015. The great man’s signature and handwritten messages have always been much in demand, as in these examples:

  • Beckenbauer did not need much time to respond when asked about his favourite exhibit when he opened the special exhibition earlier this year. “The photo when I’m in nappies standing next to my mother,” he said. The young Franz is right by the side of his mum Antonie on that picture, which is not the only reminder of his mother who died in 2006. A letter is also a reminder of a woman who once caused Franz Beckenbauer to say: “I thank God that I was born to that woman. There is no bigger joy!” That was written in early 1966 when Franz was on tour with Germany. When an autograph hunter was left waiting for the international star to arrive Antonie Beckenbauer grabbed a pen. “On behalf of her son Franz,” she wrote imparting the following message: “Please be patient and sorry that it’s taking so long.”
  • A few months later – Franz was now a runner-up at the World Cup in England and also Footballer of the Year in Germany in 1966  – Beckenbauer was confronted with autograph requests on a completely different magnitude. From then on father Franz Senior had to bring the letters to his son in Munich-Giesing in washing baskets. Everybody wanted an autograph from the young international. The signature was sought so keenly that it was even engraved in metal a year later, on a soup spoon to be precise, used in advertisements by Franz’s first big advertising partner Knorr. Of course, one of those spoons can be seen in the exhibition.
  • Another autograph from the Kaiser in the 1965-1979 section of the exhibition recalls his greatest success as a player. “Heartfelt greetings. Franz Beckenbauer. 7. 7. 1974” was written by hand on a genuine ticket for the 1974 World Cup Final that he gave away to a fan back then. The same supporter donated the ticket to the Erlebniswelt three decades later.
  • There are two other signatures from the birthday boy on view in the special exhibition: One in the preface to the DFB application to stage the 2006 World Cup and the other on a golf ball representing his second sporting passion.

 

On his visit to the club museum in the run-up to his milestone birthday, Beckenbauer made another hand-written contribution to the collection by signing the ‘FC Bayern Erlebniswelt Golden Book’. There is no doubt whatsoever that Franz Beckenbauer has played a truly momentous role in the history of FC Bayern.

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