German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, who won a World Cup for the country as a player and a coach, has died, his family said on Monday. He was 78.
Beckenbauer’s family told Germany’s dpa about his passing. The German soccer federation then announced it.
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“It is with deep sadness that we announce that my husband and our father, Franz Beckenbauer, passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday, Sunday, surrounded by his family,” the family said. “We ask that we be allowed to grieve in peace and be spared any questions.”
Beckenbauer battled health issues in recent years but no cause of death was immediately given.
Known as the “Kaiser,” Beckenbauer guided West Germany to a World Cup title in 1974 after it had lost to England in the final in 1966. He was the coach when the team won the tournament in 1990.
“The ‘Kaiser’ was one of the best players our sport has ever seen,” German soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf said. “With his lightness, his elegance and his vision, he set standards on the field…. Franz Beckenbauer leaves a great legacy for the federation and soccer as a whole.”
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also reacted to his death, writing that Beckenbauer “inspired generations of enthusiasm for German soccer. We will miss him.”
Aside from his achievements with the national team, Beckenbauer was a four-time German Male Footballer of the Year and a two-time Ballon d’Or winner. He scored 60 goals in 427 appearances for Bayern Munich and helped the team to a few Bundesliga trophies.
He also played for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
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Beckenbauer has five children from three marriages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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