Franz Beckenbauer is Number 4 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time Series
When a footballer has had a career as stellar as that of Franz Beckenbauer, it’s no mean feat to break it down into a matter of moments; in fact, we could be here all day if we tried to list them all (even though we have the time – thanks coronavirus).
A majestic midfielder-cum-centre-back-cum-sweeper, Beckenbauer was one of the founding fathers of the libero role and quite literally won it all with Bayern Munich and Germany.
In honour of Der Kaiser – no.4 in 90min’s Greatest Footballers of All Time rankings – we have given it our damnedest to provide you with just some of his most outstanding moments.
Ridiculous Free Kick Against Duisburg
Before we get into the more obvious selections, allow me to make this perhaps controversial entry, in at number five.
Yeah, we know – It’s only one goal and Beckenbauer won four ?Bundesliga titles during his 13 years with Bayern blah blah. But this strike is different gravy, and goes some way to demonstrating the talent and swagger the German possessed.
With ?Bayern on the road at MSV Duisburg during the 1973/74 campaign, Beckenbauer nonchalantly strolls up to a free kick 25 yards out, clips the ball with the outside of his right boot and somehow sends the ball spinning and dipping into the top corner of the hapless keeper’s net.
Rest assured, you won’t have seen many like it.
Right, back to basics. Franz Beckenbauer bagged two Ballons d’Or during his ridiculously decorated career – one in 1972 and one in 1976.
Both those awards came after significant wins for country and club respectively; in ’72, West Germany overcame the USSR 3-0 in the European Championship final, and of course our man had a say in the opening goal.
Galloping out from that mysterious libero position, Der Kaiser ghosts past two Soviet defenders before finding Gerd Müller. After the ball comes off the crossbar, a poor clearance from the USSR and a brilliant save from the keeper, it drops to Müller again to prod home.
In the 1976 European Cup-winning Bayern side, Beckenbauer started in the heart of defence as a Franz Roth striker saw of Saint-Étienne in Glasgow – more on that to come…
Beckenbauer pipped compatriots Müller and Günter Netzer to the Ballon d’Or in 1972, winning by just two votes, but he was the comfortable victor four years later, securing 16 votes more than nearest competitor Rob Rensenbrink of the Netherlands.
European Cup Wins
Alongside the likes of ?Real Madrid, Milan and ?Barcelona, Bayern Munich are one of those sides that are synonymous with European football’s stellar club competition. Franz Beckenbauer had a huge say in that.
The original Becks was a member of Die Roten squads that won the club’s first ever European Cup in 1974 and subsequently seal two more in a row in 1975 and 1976, winning finals against Atlético Madrid, Leeds (pictured above) and Saint-Étienne respectively.
The Bavarians have only won the competition twice since – a reflection of the feat the sides of Beckenbauer’s era achieved.
1972 European Championship Win
While it may have only been a four-team, four-match tournament, victory in the 1972 European Championship signalled a first major international honour for Beckenbauer and his individual performances would earn him his first Ballon d’Or.
With qualifying played out over the previous two years, only Belgium, West Germany, the USSR and Hungary made it to the tournament finals.
West Germany beat hosts Belgium to move into the final, where they thrashed the Soviets 3-0 – as mentioned above. Easy peasy.
1974 World Cup Win
The highlight of Franz Beckenbauer’s playing career, and not a moment too soon.
Following infamous defeat in the 1966 World Cup final and semi-final heartbreak in Mexico four years later, Der Kaiser finally got his hands on football’s most coveted trophy in 1974 aged 28 – although he was actually the first to get his hands on FIFA’s new trophy after Brazil were given special permission to keep the ol’ Jules Rimet.
His glorious moment arrived on home soil too, with West Germany hosting the tournament. In the semi-final against Poland, captain Beckenbauer was a rock defensively and played a key pass in the build up to Gerd Müller’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory.
West Germany beat Johan Cruyff’s Dutchmen 2-1 in the final, and if that wasn’t perfect enough the match was played in his home city, on his home turf at Munich’s Olympiastadion.
What dreams are made of.
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90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.
Number 50: Luka Modric
Number 49: John Charles
Number 48: Hugo Sanchez
Number 47: Jairzinho
Number 46: Omar Sivori
Number 45: Paolo Rossi
Number 44: Paul Breitner
Number 43: George Weah
Number 42: Kaka
Number 41: Lev Yashin
Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl
Number 39: Kevin Keegan
Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov
Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon
Number 36: Johan Neeskens
Number 35: Xavi Hernandez
Number 34: Luis Suarez
Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Number 32: Andres Iniesta
Number 31: Rivelino
Number 30: Bobby Moore
Number 29: Socrates
Number 28: Sandor Kocsis
Number 27: Lothar Matthaus
Number 26: Ronaldinho
Number 25: Ruud Gullit
Number 24: Bobby Charlton
Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza
Number 22: Raymond Kopa
Number 21: Romario
Number 20: Eusebio
Number 19: Marco van Basten
Number 18: George Best
Number 17: Zico
Number 16: Franco Baresi
Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo
Number 14: Ferenc Puskas
Number 13: Paolo Maldini
Number 12: Gerd Müller
Number 11: Mané Garrincha
Number 10: Alfredo Di Stefano
Number 9: Roberto Baggio
Number 8: Michel Platini
Number 7: Ronaldo
Number 6: Zinedine Zidane
Number 5: Johan Cruyff