German football legend Franz Beckenbauer dies aged 78

Beckenbauer was one of three men to have won the World Cup as a player and coach

Beckenbauer German football great Franz Beckenbauer | AFP

German football great "Der Kaiser" Franz Beckenbauer who won the FIFA World Cup both as player and coach, has died. He was 78. The statement released by Beckenbauer's family reportedly did not provide a cause of death.

“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. We ask that we be allowed grieve in peace and spared any questions,” the family said in a statement to the German news agency DPA. 

Beckenbauer captained West Germany to the World Cup title in 1974 before donning the gaffer's cap to lead Die Mannschaft to global glory again in 1990 against Argentina. He was a two time European footballer of the year.

Franz Beckenbauer Franz Beckenbauer | AFP

The Bayern Munich icon, who was undisputedly the world's best midfielder in the 1960s and 70s, had struggled with health problems in the recent past. It was the calmness on the ball and effortless distribution that marked his midfield performances to virtually invent the central defensive sweeper role where he found the most success, Reuters said.

Having played 103 times for Germany, he also won the 1972 European championship and then the World Cup on home soil having lost in the final to England in 1966. At the club front, his Bayern Munich won three successive European Cups and three Bundesliga titles thanks to Beckenbauer's brilliance. 

Nicknamed Der Kaiser ("The emperor"), Beckenbauer was one of three men to have won the World Cup as a player and coach and his death comes three days after the first to do it - Brazil's Mario Zagallo. France's Didier Deschamps is the other.

Franz Beckenbauer Franz Beckenbauer | AP

After coaching, Beckenbauer moved into football administration but in 2016 he was fined by FIFA's ethics committee for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into corruption over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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