Cologne - Not only did Franz Beckenbauer win the FIFA World Cup as a player, doing so as captain in 1974, he also guided Germany to the title as head coach in 1990.
In honour of der Kaiser's 70 birthday, bundesliga.com has gathered a selection of well-wishes from that triumphant squad.
Lothar Matthäus: “He is the ambassador for and the face of German football. He’s reached the top at whatever he’s done. And it wasn’t all thanks to God-given talent, as many people assume; Franz worked hard to be successful, even as a player. I hope he’ll be around for a long time yet and knowing him he’ll even reach triple figures, just like he did when making 103 appearances for Germany. I hope he does, but for now: happy 70th birthday!”
Karl-Heinz Riedle: “Anyone who knows Franz knows all about his big personality. As a young player I was fortunate enough for him to call me up to the national team and to select me in the World Cup squad. He wasn’t just a top-class footballer, he’s also a wonderful person. He’s just so nice.”
Rudi Völler: “I played against him for 1860 Munich when he returned to the Bundesliga from New York Cosmos in 1980 to play for Hamburger SV. He was a huge idol for all of us and four years later he surprisingly became Germany head coach. From the start I had the feeling he’d count on me and that showed at the 1990 World Cup when I picked up an ankle injury against England in the semi-finals. He told me I shouldn’t worry about it and that I should decide if I was ok to play in the final against Argentina – that was typical of him. He was also a meticulous worker, which you might not have thought about him. For example, he did match analysis with video cassettes back then. Nevertheless, he always had a certain ease and laid-back style, even in difficult situations. With his elegance and ability he would still be a world-class player today, for example as a defensive midfielder.”
Pierre Littbarski: “Before a match against England in Düsseldorf, Franz told me not to dribble as much so show off to the crowd but to shoot at goal occasionally. I scored two and, at least momentarily, made him happy with me. I had a really tough time with him but am all the more thankful to him that he took me to the World Cup in Italy and didn’t let me fall through the cracks. The fact that I got to play in the final was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Andreas Möller: “We all walked through fire for Franz because of the way he is. Ahead of my international debut against Russia in Düsseldorf in 1988 he told me in his easy-going yet forceful way: ‘Go out there and show what you can do!’ Even making small talk with him was an experience in itself.”
Thomas Hässler: “When I made my international debut in Finland in 1988 I was so proud of meeting such a wonderfully footballer face to face. He’s been called a shining light and that’s an apt description of him. His friendliness towards everyone he meets is astounding. He was spoilt for choice with midfielders at the World Cup in Italy and he told me I played in the final because I’d scored the decisive goal to make it 2-1 against Wales in qualifying. Although that win was a team effort, his words made me proud."
Guido Buchwald: “I think he’s Germany’s all-time best player. For me it was a great experience to have had a world-class player and a man with such charisma as a coach. He shaped me as a player, even though it was tough for me when he left me out of the World Cup squad in 1986. However, the way he gave me the news in my room at the training camp was remarkable. And I was compensated for it anyway at Italy 1990.
Andreas Brehme: “As a player Franz was already in the right place when others would still be trying to get into position. He’d still be a world-class player today with his ability and technique. Whenever we played five-versus-two in national team training you could see that even as head coach he knew what to do with the ball. Everyone was awestruck by him. As coach he always gave us confidence and talked us up. He knew exactly when he needed to be tough and when he could be a friend.”