DER KAISER WIRD GESTÜRZT
Another year, another absolute legend of football falls. Indeed, Franz Beckenbauer was as standout of his era as Pelé or Bobby Charlton, with the World Cup, Euro Cup, and Ballon d’Or all to his name on top of numerous German-level trophies. Der Kaiser joined a struggling Bayern Munich as a teen, and was central to ushering in a golden era for the club. He reinvented his defender role as sweeper (libero), allowing for offense where necessary and redefining football at large.
Beckenbauer made his Cup debut in 1966, and did so with aplomb helping West Germany mop up Switzerland and Uruguay, and scoring a key goal against the USSR. So fearsome was he that Bobby Charlton’s instructions for the final were to neutralise Beckenbauer, paving the way for England’s immortal win. Come 1970, he scored a dazzling goal to roll past England in the quarter-finals, dislocated his shoulder, and played in a sling during the intense Game of the Century where West Germany tantalisingly lost to Italy after a valiant battle. Hot off winning the 1972 European Championship, his moment of Cup glory came in 1974, where he captained a tough final against Johan Cruyff’s Netherlands but managed to brake Cruyff’s Total Football as Gerd Müller landed the winning goal.
He retired from international play in the late 70s in favour of playing with the New York Cosmos, where he had a blast and won three Soccer Bowls, dabbling with further German play inbetween. He retired from playing in the 80s, then West Germany coaxed him into a second wind as manager. Thrusting the task on an established legend with no managerial record went against West Germany’s established protocol, but paid off handsomely as he took the national team all the way to the finals in the 1986 Cup, only losing by facing the force of nature that was Diego Maradona. Come 1990, the redux final of West Germany against Argentina was in Beckenbauer’s favour, and he could now boast Cup victories as a coach and manager.
He enjoyed further success managing Bayern Munich, before switching his footy focus to clinching 2006 Cup hosting rights for a freshly-united Germany. This also came against the backdrop of bribery. No stranger to financial controversy (he had a history of tax evasion), he was under investigation by FIFA but ran out the clock as the statute of limitations expired. In his final years, he retreated from the spotlight with reports of unspecified health issues, leading to his death aged 78 and a continued blistering start for the Drop 40. Among his pickers are Octopus of Odstock, Stephen Hawking’s Football Boots, and current leader Day in the Death.
11 September 1945 – 7 January 2024, aged 78
33 TEAMS (💀💀💀💀💀💀💀 + 40 = 10 POINTS, 🃏 (x2) 20 POINTS)