German and World Cup football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78.
The German defender – nicknamed “Der Kaiser” because of his sublime talent – was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
He was also famed for carving out his own role as a sweeper – now often known as a “Libero” – sitting slightly behind his team’s defensive line and sweeping up any man or ball that broke through.
Across a nearly two-decade-long career – much of it spent at his boyhood club Bayern Munich – he won an array of honours, including a World Cup with then West Germany in 1974.
He narrowly missed out on lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy eight years earlier at Wembley, had it not been for England’s extra time victory in the 1966 World Cup final.
Beckenbauer also won an array of personal honours, including two European Footballer of the Year awards as a defender – a rarity at the time and still to this day.
He was immortalised in a film made about his life in 2022.
He is one of three men, along with Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, who passed away this month, and France’s Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager.
In a statement, his family said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce that my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday, Sunday, surrounded by his family,” the family said.
“We ask that you be able to grieve in silence and refrain from asking any questions.”
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