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Germany’s World Cup-winning captain and coach Beckenbauer dies at 78 –

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Germany's World Cup-winning Captain And Coach Beckenbauer Dies At 78 -

Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, one of soccer’s greatest players who captained his country to World Cup glory in 1974 and won the tournament again as manager in 1990, has died at the age of 78, his family said in a statement on Monday.

Beckenbauer bestrode the sport as player, coach, pundit and administrator for more than half a century and was widely admired globally, with messages of sympathy pouring in from across the world on Monday.

“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,” read a statement from his family.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on X: “World Cup winner as player and coach: Franz Beckenbauer was one of the greatest footballers in Germany and for many ‘der Kaiser’ also because of the excitement for German Football he created for generations. We will miss him. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Beckenbauer was a classy, dominant presence on the pitch for West Germany and Bayern Munich in the 1960s and 70s, using a calmness on the ball and effortless distribution that marked his midfield performances to virtually invent the central defensive sweeper role, or ‘libero’ where he found most success.

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“The world of FC Bayern is no longer what it was – suddenly it is darker, more quiet, poorer,” the club said in a statement.

“The German record champions are grieving the loss of Franz Beckenbauer, the unique ‘Kaiser’ without whom FC Bayern would not have become the club it is today.”

He earned 103 caps for West Germany, winning the 1972 European Championship and then the World Cup on home soil two years’ later, having lost in the final to England in 1966.

In 1970 he famously played for much of the classic World Cup semi-final against Italy with his arm in a sling, having dislocated his shoulder and broken his collar bone.

His Bayern team were the best club side in the world during the mid-1970s, winning three successive European Cups and three straight Bundesliga titles, and Beckenbauer was twice named European footballer of the year.

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He then made a controversial move to the United States, joining the “all-star” New York Cosmos team, who he helped to three domestic titles, before returning to Germany and helping Hamburg to the Bundesliga crown.

NATIONAL COACH

Beckenbauer became national team coach in 1984 despite having no previous experience and led West Germany to the 1986 World Cup final where they lost to Diego Maradona’s Argentina.

Four years later, he led a combined Germany team to victory in the final over the Argentines.

Beckenbauer was one of three men to have won the World Cup as a player and then coach and his death comes three days after the first to do it – Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. France’s Didier Deschamps is the other.

“It was a huge honour for me to join them both in 2018 as those who won the World Cup as a player and then as coach,” Deschamps said.

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“He (Beckenbauer) exuded a class, a confidence that many sought to be inspired by. Franz Beckenbauer was an extremely respected personality, who embodied the demands of the very highest level.”

Lothar Matthaeus, Beckenbauer’s victorious captain at Italia 90, said: “The shock is deep, even though I knew that Franz wasn’t well. His death is a loss for football and for Germany as a whole.

“He was one of the greatest as a player and coach, but also off the pitch. Franz was an outstanding personality not only in football, and he enjoyed worldwide recognition. Everyone who knew him knows what a great and generous person Franz was.”

Beckenbauer tasted more domestic success as manager and then club president at Bayern before becoming vice president of the German FA, playing a key role in Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

However, in 2016 he was fined by the ethics committee of world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into corruption over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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Another FIFA enquiry into Beckenbauer’s actions regarding the awarding of the 2006 World Cup was dropped without any charges being made due to a statue of limitations issue.

But it is for his incredible achievements on the pitch and in the dugout that Beckenbauer will be remembered.

“Franz Beckenbauer rewrote the history of German football and left a lasting impact on it,” said his former team mate and long-time Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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OBITUARY

Ibrahim Babangida is dead

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Ibrahim Babangida, former player of Stationery Stores and younger brother to former Super Eagles’ winger, Tijani Babangida is dead. The former midfielder to the then sensational Lagos Stationery Stores coincidentally shared the same name with former Nigerian military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.

He reportedly died in an auto-mobile accident in which his elder brother was also involved in. The older Tijani Babangida however escaped death. The older brother who was part of the gold-winning Nigerian football team at the Atlanta ‘96 Olympics is the president of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Nigeria (PFAN).

The body has since condoled with the family. In a statement credited to the General Secretary of PFAN, Emmanuel Babayaro,  the Babangida family that included Tijani, his wife, son, maid and Ibrahim, were travelling on the Kaduna-Zaria highway when the fatal accident occurred. 

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Former US football star, O. J. Simpson cremated

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.O.J. Simpson testifies during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada May 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Scheid/Pool/File Photo

 O.J. Simpson, the onetime football star infamously tried and acquitted of double-murder charges, was cremated on Wednesday during a private gathering of friends and family in downtown Las Vegas, according to the executor of his estate.

Attorney Malcolm LaVergne, who was Simpson’s lawyer for 15 years, said he was among those who attended the morning cremation at the Palm Downtown Mortuary & Cemetery, one week after Simpson died at age 76, following a battle with cancer.

“What I can tell you is that I went there and saw him right before he was placed in” the crematorium, LaVergne told Reuters by phone. “I can tell you other people were there for Mr. Simpson,” he added, declining to disclose who they were except to describe them as relatives and friends.

He said a private “celebration of (Simpson’s) life is being contemplated” for friends and family at a later date. Simpson’s cremated remains “will be in the possession of his children to do with as they see fit, pursuant to his wishes,” LaVergne said.

LaVergne said he was just starting to sort out Simpson’s estate, which he said includes a sum of money of “less than five figures” in a Nevada bank account, household furnishings and golf clubs.

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Any outstanding legal judgments against Simpson are next to last in line among any claims that get paid from what remains of his estate after a lengthy list of higher-priority obligations under Nevada law, including the Internal Revenue Service, which ranks No. 5 after administrative costs, funeral expenses, medical bills from his last illness and any alimony and child support, LaVergne said

Simpson had lived in Las Vegas since he was paroled from prison in Nevada in 2017 after serving nine years for his conviction on charges of robbing and kidnapping two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel in 2007.

Simpson’s greatest notoriety stemmed from his acquittal in a sensational trial 12 years earlier of murder charges in the 1994 stabbing deaths of former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles.

Another jury later found him liable for their deaths in a civil lawsuit, and ordered him to pay to pay $33.5 million in damages, most of which has never been collected.

Nicknamed “The Juice,” Simpson was one of the best and most popular athletes of the late 1960s and 1970s. He won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player – a running back at the University of Southern California, and went on to a record-setting career in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.

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He later parlayed his football stardom into a career as a sportscaster, advertising pitchman and Hollywood actor in films including the “Naked Gun” series.

-Reuters

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Another Germany World Cup winner  dies

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Bernd Hoelzenbein

After Gerd Muller who died in 2021 and Franz Beckenbauer that passed on in January and scorer of the the 1990 winning goal, Andreas Brehme who followed in February, another German star has fallen. Germany’s 1974 World Cup-winning striker Bernd Hoelzenbein has died at the age of 78, his former club Eintracht Frankfurt said on Tuesday.

Hoelzenbein died on Monday surrounded by his family, the club added in a statement.

Part of the German squad that won the World Cup on home soil, Hoelzenbein won three German Cups with Frankfurt and also the UEFA Cup in 1980, having come through their youth setup

He scored a club record 215 goals in 532 competitive appearances for Frankfurt between 1967 and 1981.

“Bernd had a huge influence on Eintracht for almost 60 years,” club chief executive officer Axel Hellmann said in a statement.

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“He was part of the golden generation of the 1970s, the UEFA Cup win in 1980‚ and the ‘Football 2000’ era that we as a club played at the start of the 1990s, during which time he was vice-president.

“In Bernd, we are losing not only one of the club’s biggest icons, but also a loyal colleague and a dear friend.”

Bayern Munich also offered their condolences.

“Bayern, together with the rest of the German footballing world, are united in mourning the passing of Bernd Hoelzenbein,” they said on social media platform X. “He was a true great both on and off the pitch.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and all those that knew him. Rest in peace.”

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-Reuters

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