Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup both as player and coach and became one of Germany’s most beloved personalities with his easygoing charm, has died, news agency dpa reported on Monday. He was 78.
“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,” the family said in a statement to dpa, the German news agency. “We ask that we be allowed to grieve in peace and be spared any questions.”
The statement did not provide a cause of death. The former Bayern Munich great had struggled with health problems in recent years.
Beckenbauer was one of German soccer’s central figures. As a player, he reimagined the defender’s role in soccer and captained West Germany to the World Cup title in 1974 after it had lost to England in the 1966 final.
He was the coach when West Germany won the tournament again in 1990, a symbolic moment for a country in the midst of reunification, months after the Berlin Wall fell.
Beckenbauer’s death comes just two days after the announcement that Mario Zagallo, the Brazilian who became the first person to win the World Cup as a player and coach, had died at the age of 92.