4. Franz Beckenbauer

 

SI-BECKENBAUER-WM-Pokal-1974

Whereas Casillas’s problem was unifying a philosophy propagated by a rival club, Beckenbauer’s was elevating that established by his own.

In the mid 1970’s, no club was greater than Bayern Munich. Their dominance of Europe saw them lift three consecutive European Cups.

At the start of that dominance in 1974, West Germany hosted the World Cup. Not only was there pressure from the West German fans to win the trophy, there was the added pressure of the team being European champions from two years earlier. Coupled with a core of European Cup winning players from Bayern Munich, nothing less than a World Cup win was expected.

Beckenbauer’s calm head however guided them through it. While the finishing power of Gerd Muller upfront was lethal to decisive points, it was the composure of this team that mattered most. Not least in the final against the Total Football of the Netherlands who were a goal up inside a minute without the Germans having even touched the ball.

Besides, it was Beckenbauer’s abilities that meant he very well could have fit into that Total Football model. From center back, he was a footballer well before his time. While the previous decade had been dominated by the hoofing and no nonsense clearance of Italy’s defensive libero, Beckenbauer became football’s first ever ball playing libero. As many opposition attacks as he helped end, he also helped in instigating so many for his team by stepping up into midfield and sweeping accurate passes forward.

By re-inventing a position, not only did he give West Germany a potent weapon. He also helped them become a dominant force. Winning the 1974 World Cup was one of those glowing achievements.

[image courtesy of imortais do futebol]

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