Franz Beckenbauer: A portrait of the Kaiser | Soccer | Sports

In a television interview shortly after moving to Germany, Franz Beckenbauer was asked what happiness was. Not what he meant by happiness, but what is, so to speak, its determining substance. I don’t know now what he responded, having already retired from football after a seemingly pleasant experience with the New York Cosmos.

Beckenbauer was certainly not a philosopher. Nor a singer, for that matter, even if he recorded an album. What I understood immediately and later experience and a long stay in the country confirmed to me was that Franz Beckenbauer was much more to his compatriots than a legendary athlete. The question of happiness stems from the fact that he was considered a man for whom everything went well. Of course, this would have to be qualified. In particular, the last years of his life (corruption scandal, death of a son, illnesses) were not easy for him, because the positive image associated with his name from the beginning had already been damaged. About him, in a recent documentary, Karl Rummenigge said: “When Franz enters the room, the light turns on”, a statement that covers moments of the praised man’s glorious sporting career, as a footballer and as a coach, and extends to his business skills and his role as president of Bayern Munich.

This personal influence earned him enormous respect on and off the playing fields. Success accompanied him everywhere. He was a world champion as a footballer and then as a coach without any preparation for this position. And there is recorded footage of players under his command, even players known to be rebellious, listening despondently to the reprimands of the Kaiser, who did not even need the discretion to shout. It was said that no Bundesliga player dared to kick him. Difficult to face a footballer with institutional rank. Even more than a Bayern player, Franz Beckenbauer was a German player, and in these dismal hours, it is enough to hear politicians of all stripes, writers, artists and, in short, celebrities of all stripes, consider the deceased as a piece of property, the entire nation.

Without a doubt, footballers who were once great figures remembered with admiring nostalgia are dying, especially in the teams where they played. Not so with Beckenbauer, always above everyone else in the ranks. The children’s idol, the elegant footballer who is said to have finished his matches with an impeccable jersey, the man with winged feet, the leader, the captain, the spokesperson, the one who made history as the quintessential German footballer. : All these attributes characterize Franz Beckenbauer, even if they do not exhaust his figure or his heritage. Let’s add the enormous benefit that imitators derived from his Bavarian accent, giving him a comical aspect which helped to make him even more likeable. How can we forget his dedication to the nation’s colors during Mexico 70, when he played with a broken collarbone in the so-called “match of the century” against Italy?

And with the light, the shadows. Beckenbauer was a key figure in Germany hosting the 2006 World Cup. Today we know there was a swap. And the fact is that Germany experienced the blatant case of corruption, not as a bad practice of a few profiteers, but as a national tragedy. From then on, Franz, the Kaiser, saw his star fade and chose to retire to his house in Austria, where happiness abandoned him and where a death overtook him which left all of Germany in mourning.

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