Football bids emotional farewell to Franz Beckenbauer in Munich memorial service

By Sports Desk January 19, 2024

Franz Beckenbauer was described as a “role model for many generations” as Bayern Munich paid an emotional final farewell to their club great in a memorial service at the Allianz Arena on Friday.

Former West Germany captain and manager Beckenbauer died on January 7 at the age of 78, prompting tributes throughout the world of football for the man known as ‘Der Kaiser’ – The Emperor.

Munich-born Beckenbauer captained Bayern to three successive European Cup triumphs from 1974, and is one of only three men to have won the World Cup as both player and manager, lifting the trophy in 1974 and 1990.

Comfortable as an attacking sweeper or dominant midfielder, Beckenbauer was widely recognised as one of the best players in the history of the game and won the Ballon d’Or in 1972 and 1976.

Beckenbauer had been laid to rest alongside his parents at the Perlacher Forest cemetery in Munich.

Around 20,000 fans attended Friday’s memorial service, along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and national team coach Julian Nagelsmann.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and UEFA counterpart Aleksander Ceferin were also among the guests, while leading European clubs were represented by the likes of Barcelona’s Joan Laporta, Paris St Germain’s Nasser Al-Khelaifi as well as Real Madrid’s honorary president Jose Martinez Pirri.

Alex Stepney fronted Manchester United’s delegation, having earlier visited Manchesterplatz in Trudering-Riem, the site of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster, to lay a wreath for his former team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton and their great on-pitch rival Beckenbauer.

Wreaths, including from Barcelona and Liverpool, were laid around a black-and-white picture of Beckenbauer in the centre circle at Bayern’s Allianz Arena home.

Lothar Matthaeus, captain of the 1990 World Cup-winning squad, Paul Breitner and Berti Vogts, team-mates from 1974, were among the players who paid their respects on the pitch, along with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former Bayern chief executive and close friend of Beckenbauer.

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann sang the Italian version of “Time to Say Goodbye” before Bayern president Herbert Hainer addressed the crowd.

“Franz was a friend to everyone, from his heart. That’s what made him this unique personality. He would have been pleased that so many people have come today,” Hainer said in his speech.

“A Munich child who became a world citizen. He was taught from a young age that every person is equal. He exemplified that value – always and everywhere.

“A role model for many generations. Wherever he went, Franz treated everyone the same way. Always a nice word, always an open ear – that was his gift.”

Hainer added: “This is FC Bayern’s home and this will always be Franz’s home, too. FC Bayern will always remain the Kaiser’s empire.

“Dear Franz, we’re immeasurably grateful for everything. You’ll remain in our hearts and in our play for all time.”

Bayern’s honorary president Uli Hoeness paid an emotional tribute to his old friend as the ceremony was brought to a close.

“We played together for many years, we won a huge amount and lost the odd game too,” he said.

“If I didn’t know what to do with the ball, I knew it was safe with Franz.”

Hoeness added: “If you had a problem, you went to Franz. That was one of his most important characteristics.

“You could learn a lot from Franz not just on the pitch, but a lot off it too.”

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