Franz Beckenbauer's legendary football journey began with a decisive moment in a youth match in 1958, where a slap in the face prompted him to switch from Munich 1860 to their rivals, Bayern. Born in post-war Germany, Beckenbauer grew up in poverty and dreamt of playing for Munich 1860. The altercation with the goalkeeper changed the course of his destiny, leading him to Bayern, where he became the linchpin of a young and dynamic team, transforming the club into a football empire.
His arrival at Bayern marked a turning point, and Beckenbauer's influence extended beyond the pitch. He redefined football by introducing the libero position, showcasing a defender's offensive capabilities. Berti Vogts, his former teammate, highlighted Beckenbauer's role in shaping football, emphasizing his prowess as a playmaker behind the defense. His innovative approach to the game left an indelible mark, introducing new systems and tactics.
Beckenbauer's impact extended to the national team, where he captained West Germany to unprecedented success in the 1970s. His leadership guided the team to victories in the Euros (1972) and the World Cup (1974), solidifying his status as the emperor of German football. Beyond accolades, he played a crucial role in hosting the 2006 World Cup in Germany, showcasing his enduring influence.
In his later years, Beckenbauer faced health challenges but remained an influential figure. A significant yet overlooked connection existed between Beckenbauer and Israel, where he visited and prayed near the Western Wall. Despite his passing, the slap-induced decision to join Bayern reverberates in history as a small incident that changed the face of German football and elevated Beckenbauer to an iconic status.