Franz Beckenbauer: Only defender to win the Ballon D’Or twice

In 1977, the German legend called the white Pele by German sports magazine Kicker joined the famed Brazilian at the New York Cosmos. He is the only defender to win the Ballon D’Or twice in the history of football.

Abhishek Singh

@Abhishek-singh

Updated: Jul 6th 21

4 min read / 136 views

The future emperor grew up in Giesing, a working-class neighbourhood where the majority of the residents were Blues (1860 Munich fans) rather than Reds (Bayern fans). Beckenbauer, the son of a postal worker, grew up rooting for 1860 and dreamed of one day playing for them. When he was playing for SC 1906 in 1958, he came up against them. The U14 championship final was a hard-fought game, and Beckenbauer was embroiled in a running struggle with Gerhard Konig, the centre-back. The match's facts are unclear, but one thing is certain that Konig aimed a slap at his opponent at one point. After that incident, a 13-year-old Beckenbauer elected to join Bayern Munich later that year, rather than 1860 as originally intended.

 

“It was just fate that we both came together, and that I became a Red and not a Blue,” Beckenbauer told Bayerischer Rundfunk.

 

The Bundesliga, Germany's top-tier football league, was founded in 1963, although Bayern Munich was not selected for the league that year. Despite this, Franz Beckenbauer made his team debut with Bayern Munich a year later, initially as an outside-left and then as a midfielder. Bayern Munich was promoted to the Bundesliga after its first season in the Regional League South. In August 1965, Bayern lost their first Bundesliga game 1-0 against 1860, but while their local rivals won the league, the Reds won the DFB Cup. Beckenbauer won his first trophy by scoring an insurance goal in the final against Duisburg.

 

Beckenbauer, who was still only 20 years old at the time, was one of the stars of the 1966 FIFA World Cup. West Germany advanced to the final, where they will face England, the hosts. In extra time, the English won the final and the Jules Rimet Trophy. The Germans had failed at the final hurdle, but Beckenbauer had a memorable campaign, finishing tied for third among top scorers despite playing in a defensive position. He won the Bundesliga and DFB Cup four times between 1966 and 1977, and Bayern also won the European Cup three times in a row from 1974 to 1976, as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1967.

 

In 1971, Beckenbauer was named captain of the national team. West Germany won the European Championship in 1972, defeating the Soviet Union in the final 3–0. Beckenbauer won the Ballon d'Or on December 26, 1972, becoming the second German to do so. He received 81 points after a fiercely disputed voting procedure. West Germany hosted the 1974 World Cup, and Beckenbauer led his team to victory, including a hard-fought 2–1 victory over the Netherlands, which featured Johan Cruyff. Beckenbauer and his teammates did such a good job of man-marking Cruyff that the Dutch were never able to fully utilise their "Total Football" strategy. Beckenbauer won the Ballon d'Or on December 26, 1972, becoming the second German to do so. He received 81 points after a fiercely disputed voting procedure.

 

West Germany advanced to the final of the 1976 European Championship, where they were defeated by Czechoslovakia on penalties. Beckenbauer was named to the Tournament Team. He was instrumental in Bayern's third European Cup victory that year (now Champions League). Der Kaiser was substantially more dominant in the Ballon D'Or voting that year, finishing with 91 points and receiving his second Ballon d'Or on December 28th, 1976.

 

In 1977, the German legend called "the white Pele" by German sports magazine Kicker joined the famed Brazilian at the New York Cosmos. Both teams had a successful period during which they won the North American Soccer League three times. After a two-year stint with Hamburger SV in Germany (1980–82), when he won the Bundesliga title that year, and one more season with the New York Cosmos in 1983, Beckenbauer retired. On his return to Germany, Beckenbauer was named manager of the West German national team on September 12, 1984, to succeed Jupp Derwall. He led the squad to the 1986 World Cup final, where they were defeated by Argentina, led by Diego Maradona.

 

With his homeland months away from reunification, Beckenbauer led West Germany to another World Cup final, this time against Argentina, in the summer of 1990. Andreas Brehme scored the only goal from the penalty spot in Rome, despite the presence of great players like Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudi Völler, and captain Lothar Matthaus. Beckenbauer is one of only three men to have won the Cup both as a player and as a manager (the others being Mario Zagallo and Didier Deschamps). Beckenbauer went on to coach Marseille and Bayern Munich for brief periods, winning the Bundesliga in 1993/94 and the UEFA Cup in 1995/96 with the latter. He subsequently spent 15 years as the head of his first club before becoming a popular analyst on German television.


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