Cologne - Icon, hero, role model, friend: Franz Beckenbauer is known the world over in diverse capacities. A popular figure wherever he goes, there was no shortage of well-wishers eager to congratulate him on his 70th birthday.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (chairman, FC Bayern München): "I’ve known Franz Beckenbauer for 41 years now. I played alongside him for the first few years of my career and later worked with him for many years in the boardroom at Bayern. Not only has he always represented Bayern fantastically well, both on and off the pitch, he’s done the same for German football and the game as a whole. What particularly impresses me is that he’s friendly with everyone he meets. Franz is the ideal representative of the Bavarian baroque way of life. He’s a wonderful person and a friend who’s always been a role model for me."
Klaus Allofs (sporting director, VfL Wolfsburg ): “Franz Beckenbauer has been a big influence on much of my career. He was there when I started out as a player and later he was my coach in the national team. In sporting terms, Franz was a role model for everyone back then and he was a strong character. We finished as runners-up at the 1986 World Cup under him and he later made me captain of the national side. One of his strengths, which he retains to this day, is interacting with people with a natural authority he combines with courtesy and a laid-back manner. For me, Franz Beckenbauer is the best example of a global star who has nevertheless remained down to earth.”
Klaus Filbry (chairman, SV Werder Bremen): "For me Franz Beckenbauer is the epitome of elegance and ease and in my view, tactically speaking, revolutionised football through his sense of space."
Dietmar Beiersdorfer (chairman, Hamburger SV): "Franz Beckenbauer is without doubt one of the most important personalities in German sport. What always impressed me about him was his modesty and humility despite his big performances, successes and awards. That distinguishes him as a wonderful human being."
Rainer Bonhof (vice-president, Borussia Mönchengladbach): “The thing I associate most with Franz is our World Cup triumph on home soil in 1974. He’s an extraordinary person. Even today we hug each other whenever we meet.”
Harald “Toni” Schumacher (vice-president, 1. FC Köln): “Franz is without doubt one of the greatest characters in German football. He has always strived for, and achieved, the maximum in the numerous roles he has had. He won everything there is to win in football. I’m very happy that I was able to work alongside Franz for so many years of my playing career, and that we still enjoy a good relationship today.”
Dietmar Hopp (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim investor): “Franz embodies a combination of respect, tolerance, integrity, fairness, humility and identity like no other. He took it upon himself to invest ideas, strength and passion into our social community and that’s why he is an important role model for our youngsters.”