Franz Beckenbauer


In these days of instant gratification, the world's biggest and best-known footballers are the glory boys – the Messis and Ronaldos and Rooneys – who bang in the goals.

But back in the day, the world's finest player was a stately ball-playing centre half by the name of Franz Beckenbauer.

The Kaiser was the heartbeat of a German national side that won the World Cup in 1974, sweeping either behind or in front of the back line, instigating moves or strolling up the field with the ball magnetised to his boot.

Twice named European Footballer of the Year, Beckenbauer is one of only two people to have won the World Cup as both a player and a coach. He also captained the legendary Bayern Munich team of the mid-seventies to three consecutive European Cup victories.

And when he stopped playing and coaching, Beckenbauer proved just as adept as a sports politician when he led Germany's successful bod to host the 2006 World Cup.

Not bad for a player who had to be converted from a centre forward to a centre half to save his playing career.

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Franz Beckenbauer