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German legend and Philadelphia Fury foe Franz Beckenbauer dies at age 78



World Cup champion and former Bayern Munich and New York Cosmos star Franz Beckenbauer has died at the age of 78.

Known by the nickname Der Kaiser (The Emperor), Beckenbauer won the 1974 FIFA World Cup with West Germany as a player and the 1990 FIFA World Cup as manager of West Germany, a feat accomplished by just two others: Mário Zagallo with Brazil and Didier Deschamps with France.

Beckenbauer is credited with inventing the modern libero or sweeper role as a defender who was able to play out of the back and contribute to the attack while also serving as the last line of defense closest to the goalkeeper.

His unique role can be seen in game footage from one of the three times he played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in his first stint with the Cosmos in the North American Soccer League from 1977-1980.

The game is from the 1979 season.

Though his name doesn’t come up a lot in the early going of a scoreless game his influence in the build-up increases as the game wears on into the second half still scoreless. Beckenbauer’s touch and grace even as a 33-year-old on the Astroturf at The Vet is hard to miss.

Beckenbauer finished his career with the Cosmos in 1983 before starting his managerial career with West Germany in 1984.

The NASL folded after the 1984 season but along with other Cosmos stars Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia, Beckenbauer helped put American soccer on the map and gave young American soccer players and fans an international superstar to idolize.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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