Franz Beckenbauer, a shining symbol of German football, and a winner of the highest football prizes as a player and coach, is the latest great to have the honour of receiving the UEFA President's Award. 'Der Kaiser' collected the 2012 prize from Michel Platini in Munich on Wednesday.
A skilful and purposeful midfield player in his younger days, Beckenbauer was behind a tactical innovation in the game when he converted to a libero, sweeping up behind the defence. It was in this role that he captained Germany to two major titles – the UEFA European Championship in 1972, and the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 1974.
"Franz Beckenbauer has made a memorable contribution to football as a player, coach and administrator," said UEFA President Michel Platini. "His versatility and skill, allied to his qualities as a leader, marked his distinguished playing career, in which he won a host of honours at club and national team level – and he can lay claim to having invented the role of libero as a tactical innovation.
"He was equally successful when he moved into coaching, taking his country to the FIFA World Cup title. Franz Beckenbauer is a landmark figure in football who can be proud of his many achievements. It gives me great pleasure to honour him with the UEFA President's Award for 2012."
Beckenbauer was born in Munich on 11 September 1945. The son of a postal official, he made his debut for FC Bayern München as an 18-year-old, and went on to play 396 Bundesliga matches for the club, scoring 44 goals and inspiring them to some of their greatest triumphs – the 1967 European Cup Winners' Cup, four Bundesliga titles and three successive European Champion Clubs' Cups, in 1974, 1975 and 1976.
He played 103 times for West Germany, scoring 14 goals – including four in the 1966 World Cup finals as his side finished runners-up. His elegant prowess as a player was recognised with European Footballer of the Year awards in 1972 and 1976.
In 1977, Beckenbauer moved to New York Cosmos, winning the United States championship three times. A return to Germany saw him celebrating another Bundesliga title with Hamburger SV in 1982 before he went back to the Cosmos, ending an outstanding playing career in 1983.
In 1984, Beckenbauer accepted the offer to become coach of West Germany, and his footballing successes continued. In 1986, his team were runners-up at the World Cup in Mexico, and four years later they triumphed in the same competition, remaining unbeaten as they claimed the trophy in Italy.
Honours also came as a club coach with Bayern: he lifted a Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA Cup two years later. In 1994, he also became club president – a position he held for 15 years before becoming honorary president – and helped guide the Bavarian side to further national and international glories, including the UEFA Champions League in 2001. Beckenbauer led the German bid committee for the 2006 World Cup, before heading the organising committee for the final tournament.
He has also served on the FIFA Executive Committee, and his UEFA duties have included the chairmanship of the Football Committee (2007–11), and deputy chairmanship of the Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee (2009–11) and of the Development and Technical Assistance Committee (2007–09). Beckenbauer was awarded the UEFA Order of Merit in diamond in 2002.
Beckenbauer joins a select group of football luminaries who have won the UEFA President's Award in recent years: Alfredo Di Stéfano (2007), Sir Bobby Charlton (2008), Eusébio (2009), Raymond Kopa (2010) and Gianni Rivera (2011).
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