Ten Hag leads United tributes to Franz Beckenbauer

Monday 08 January 2024 19:53

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has paid tribute to Franz Beckenbauer, after learning that the German football legend has passed away at the age of 78.

The announcement was made a few hours before United's Emirates FA Cup tie away at Wigan Athletic, where the boss spoke warmly about the legendary player, manager and ambassador in his pre-match interview for club media.

"It’s very sad news, of course. He’s one of the global football icons," said Ten Hag, who spent two seasons coaching the reserves at Beckenbauer's former club Bayern Munich.
"He did it in different functions. As a player, he became very popular. He was winning but also he had a big influence on the game. He made such an impression in the way he played football and that brought him the name ‘The Emperor’.

"Then, as a coach, as a manager, also winning the World Cup, and also as a Director of Football, so he had a big influence on top football. We won’t forget what he did for German football, for Bayern Munich of course.

"It is really sad news and I wish all his family all the best."
Beckenbauer lifting the prestigious World Cup trophy with West Germany.

Beckenbauer lifted the World Cup as West Germany captain in 1974, and also triumphed in the tournament as a manager, with Germany in 1990.

The revered defender's first international honour as a player was the European Championship in 1972. He went on to make 103 appearances for his country, including the World Cup final of 1966 when he played in midfield and man-marked United legend Sir Bobby Charlton.

Although they were on opposite sides that day, as England famously won 4-2 at Wembley, Beckenbauer and Charlton became firm friends as two of the players known and admired around the globe for their distinguished careers in the beautiful game.

Two of football's greatest-ever players, Franz and Sir Bobby were also good friends.
Beckenbauer was also phenomenally successful at club level, as a pivotal player in the Bayern side that won three European Cups in a row from 1974 to 1976. He won the Bundesliga title four times on the pitch, before repeating the feat as Bayern's boss in 1993/94. The man nicknamed 'Der Kaiser' was awarded the Ballon D'Or twice, in 1972 and 1976. 

Acknowledging the news of his death, Bayern posted on their official X account: "Suddenly, our world isn’t the same as it once was — darker, quieter and worse off. The record champions are mourning the loss of Franz Beckenbauer, the incomparable ‘Kaiser’ without who FC Bayern would never have become the club it is today. Rest in peace, Kaiser."

Bastian Schweinsteiger, a former player who served both United and Bayern, as well as Germany, commented on social media: "Thank you for everything, Kaiser - I will never forget you! Rest in peace, Franz."

Rio Ferdinand, widely regarded as one of the most graceful defenders to play for the Reds, passionately explained Beckenbauer's influence on his position and approach to the game.

"The Kaiser. What a player. A trailblazer. Someone who was anything but one dimensional," said the former United and England centre-back.

"Generations after him watched his videos/clips and thought WOW. He had grace, poise & class all while being a winner. Absolutely had an impact on the way I tried to play the game although I never got near his level. A legend among legends. #FranzBeckenbauer."

Remembering Sir Bobby: