Cologne - Former Germany international Heinz Flohe has become the first member of Germany's 1974 FIFA World Cup winning side to pass away.

The 65-year-old, capped 39-times by his country, died in his hometown of Euskirchen in western Germany on Saturday having been in a vegetative state for the last three years. The erstwhile playmaker made 329 Bundesliga appearances for 1. FC Köln and was described by Franz Beckenbauer as "the best footballer in Germany" during his 1970s heyday.

"Football fans will never forget you"

Flohe suffered cardiac arrhythmias while on a stroll through Cologne on 11 May 2010 and doctors placed him in an induced coma in order to avoid potential brain damage. He never regained consciousness.

Current Arsenal star and former Köln striker Lukas Podolski offered his condolences, tweeting: "Flocke, football fans will never forget you. You were a true great. Yours, Poldi."