Soccer-Bayern commemorate ‘great German’ Beckenbauer in stadium ceremony

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) – Franz Beckenbauer was a great German who became his country’s best ambassador around the world, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday at a commemoration at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena stadium.

Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz led the long list of attendees that also included a who’s who of German football, past and present, as well as tens of thousands of spectators in the stadium.

Beckenbauer, who died at the age of 78 earlier this month, helped modernise soccer and came to personify Germany’s post-war sporting success, captaining his country to the 1974 World Cup title on home soil.

“I don’t know if angels up in the sky do any sport but in the past few days they may have heard this voice with the Bavarian accent saying ‘go out and play football’,” Steinmeier said in his speech.

“He was known around the world and Franz Beckenbauer was admired, idolised and loved.

“For many he was a role model, for us all he was a stroke of luck. We part from a great German and, as President, I say ‘Thank you Franz Beckenbauer, thank you for everything’.”

With wreaths laid out in the centre of the pitch around a large picture of Beckenbauer, his family, friends and fans bade an emotional farewell.

Beckenbauer also won the World Cup as Germany coach in 1990 and was one of only three people to achieve the feat as both player and coach

‘Der Kaiser’, as he was nicknamed for his imperious playing style and command of the game, was for decades synonymous with Germany’s success on the pitch.

He amassed every major honour in his glittering playing career and continued his extraordinary record of success after switching to the manager’s bench.

Beckenbauer won 103 caps and captained West Germany to World Cup success in 1974, two years after lifting the European title.

At club level he steered Bayern Munich to three successive European Cup victories from 1974 to 1976 and won the World Club Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and eight domestic trophies — four league titles and four cup triumphs.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)