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Thousands attend memorial service for Franz Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich’s stadium

Among the guests were German chancellor Olaf Scholz and a host of other political figures, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

Fans hold up scarves that read 'Thank you Franz' during the Memorial ceremony for Franz Beckenbauer in Munich, Germany, 19 January 2024.
Fans hold up scarves that read 'Thank you Franz' during the Memorial ceremony for Franz Beckenbauer in Munich, Germany, 19 January 2024.ANNA SZILAGYI (EFE)

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid tribute to Franz Beckenbauer as thousands gathered at Bayern Munich’s stadium on Friday for a memorial service dedicated to the player and coach known as “Der Kaiser,” who died Jan. 7 at the age of 78.

The open-air memorial service on a bright, cold day in Beckenbauer’s home town of Munich included many of the most influential figures in German politics and the world of soccer, as well as thousands of Bayern fans.

“We are not only bidding farewell to a world-class soccer player. We are bidding farewell to a great person. His skill inspired us, his friendly demeanor won people over, his fairness and attitude were no less than his talent,” Steinmeier said, adding: “Thank you, Franz, thank you for everything.”

Speakers including Steinmeier, Bayern president Herbert Hainer and Beckenbauer’s former teammate Uli Hoeness praised how Beckenbauer combined immense talent on the field with personal warmth.

“This club grew up with Franz Beckenbauer, we grew together,” Hainer said. “The world looked up to him but he didn’t look down on anyone.”

A black-and-white picture of Beckenbauer covered the center circle of the field, surrounded by wreaths laid in his memory, including tributes from clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool.

As renowned tenor Jonas Kaufmann sang, 11 former players laid floral tributes. They included Beckenbauer’s teammates from West Germany’s World Cup-winning 1974 team like Paul Breitner and Berti Vogts, players he coached to victory at the 1990 World Cup such as Lothar Matthäus, and the 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Among the guests were German chancellor Olaf Scholz and a host of other political figures, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, and German national team coach Julian Nagelsmann.

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