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.
Dr. Reinhard Rauball (League Association President): "Franz Beckenbauer was and is a gift for the world of football. It’s unbelievable how popular he is today among young people who never even saw him play live. As head coach of the German national team and through winning the 1990 World Cup he helped forge a new status for German football. And at the 2006 World Cup he led the way when the image of Germany changed to a new, positive one. Franz is the perfect ambassador the world over. The way he signs countless autographs with a smile is unique. That, as well as in honour of his diverse achievements, was one of the reasons we named him an honorary member of the League Association in 2010. Congratualations on an extraordinary life with outstanding accomplishments!"
Christian Seifert (DFL CEO): "Franz Beckenbauer is one of the greatest sportspeople Germany has ever produced. He is already a legend. Not just because of his insurmountable achievements for football, but also due to his demeanour. Franz Beckenbauer is a global star without any pretensions. He is friendly, grounded and charming. The Bundesliga can be proud to have produced such an exceptional player."
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.”
Hans-Joachim Watzke (chairman, Borussia Dortmund): “Franz Beckenbauer is an icon in German football and across the globe. He was one of my childhood heroes.” Horst Heldt (Schalke sporting director): “Franz Beckenbauer is the shining light of German football. In addition to his outstanding achievements as a player and as a coach, what really sets him apart is that he has stayed down to earth. He’s a man who has accomplished so much, who brought the 2006 World Cup to Germany and who has inspired so many generations, but has always remained true to himself. That’s what impresses me.”
Michael Preetz (sporting director, Hertha Berlin): "Franz Beckenbauer was a brilliant player and an incredible strategist. He set milestones as a player, coach and functionary and is quite simply a personality of our sport par excellence."
Michael Schade (executive chairman, Bayer 04 Leverkusen): "Franz Beckenbauer? A massive name and a huge personality. A global star as a player and a coach, an accomplished and highly respected football functionary, a media pro and popular pundit. And of course a goalscorer like no other: His goal from the top of a beer glass on aktuelle sportstudio is German television gold."
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.”