Memories of Franz Beckenbauer’s 1966 World Cup game at Villa Park as tributes paid to German football legend

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died at the age of 78
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It was Birmingham that saw football maestro Franz Beckenbauer cut his teeth on the world stage as the legend-in-waiting proved key to his country’s 1966 World Cup campaign. 

Villa Park hosted matches in the competition’s Group 2, won by West Germany. And Beckenbauer, who died on Sunday aged 78, gave fans a taste of what was to come. The 20-year-old – yet to be acclaimed a superstar of the sport – showed he had the courage to match the creativity in his country’s July 16 game with Argentina, a side known for their uncompromising approach and tough tackling. 

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The South Americans would go on to feature in an infamous, foul-filled quarter-final with England. Germany, of course, lost to the host nation in a thrilling final. Beckenbauer had already lived up to his nickname “Der Kaiser” in West Germany’s opening game of the ’66 tournament, scoring twice in a 5-0 thumping of Switzerland at Hillsborough, Sheffield. 

Pictured prior to the 1966 World Cup Franz Beckenbaur with Sepp Maier and (L-R) Brend Patzke and Freidl Lutz (Allsport Hutton/Archive)Pictured prior to the 1966 World Cup Franz Beckenbaur with Sepp Maier and (L-R) Brend Patzke and Freidl Lutz (Allsport Hutton/Archive)
Pictured prior to the 1966 World Cup Franz Beckenbaur with Sepp Maier and (L-R) Brend Patzke and Freidl Lutz (Allsport Hutton/Archive)

But Argentina’s players – masters of the rough stuff – were intent on stifling the young maestro. A crowd of 46,587 at Villa Park watched the boots fly. Rafael Albrecht was sent off for a truly chilling tackle. Beckenbauer, sick of being on the sharp end of South American studs, finally retaliated in the 48th minute and received a booking. He had decided to fight fire with fire. The match ended in 0-0 stalemate, but Franz, in his first World Cup, realised during those 90 minutes that sometimes you have to be a beast to play the beautiful game. 

Following news of his death, football’s biggest names have paid tribute to the defender, one of only three men to lift the World Cup as a player and manager. He also won the European Championship and represented his country 103 times. 

Franz Beckenbauer. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.Franz Beckenbauer. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
Franz Beckenbauer. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.

England striker Harry Kane, now with Beckenbauer’s former club Bayern Munich,  posted:  "In my time at the club so far it's clear what he meant to Bayern and to football in this country. My thoughts are with his family and friends." 

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Gary Lineker said: “Very sorry to hear that Franz Beckenbauer has died. One of the absolute greats of our game. Der Kaiser was the most beautiful of footballers who won it all with grace and charm. RIP.” 

Sir Kenny Dalglish: “It fills me with deep sadness to hear about the passing of Franz Beckenbauer, a true icon of the game. It was a privilege to share one of my proudest moments with him when he presented my 100th cap for Scotland. My thoughts are with him and his family at this time. RIP Der Kaiser.” 

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