Football legend Franz Beckenbauer turns 60

9th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 September 2005, GOING, AUSTRIA - Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer turns 60 Sunday, still exuding the confidence in his ability and pleasure from life that made him the man most Germans believe to be the country's greatest ever footballer.

9 September 2005

GOING, AUSTRIA - Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer turns 60 Sunday, still exuding the confidence in his ability and pleasure from life that made him the man most Germans believe to be the country's greatest ever footballer.

"I enjoy every day. This is paradise. Is there anything better?" said Beckenbauer while sipping a glass of white wine in a restaurant in the Austrian town of Going, overlooking the mountains of Tirol.

Having won the World Cup as a player (1974) and a manager (1990), as well as three European Cups with Bayern Munich, the club he is now president of, Beckenbauer has no targets left to achieve in a sport he has graced with is presence for four decades.

Any wishes for the future?

"I like Pope Benedict. A sympathetic, fatherly person," he says. "It'd like to get to know him."

As organising committee boss, Beckenbauer is also naturally looking forward to next year's World Cup in Germany, which he hopes, for the sake of the country, will be a resounding success.

"Then our country, which from every view isn't in the best situation, could manage an upswing."

Beckenbauer is certainly not just hoping everything goes right, he is working flat out to ensure the event is a success.

His assistant has him booked in for 330 days of appointments in the year ahead of the 2006 World Cup, which runs June 9 to July 9.

From October, Beckenbauer will travel "three times around the world" in 50 days, visiting the 31 other participating countries.

"This World Cup is getting all my energy and concentration," he says. "You only get the chance once in your life to host and organise a World Cup. We won't get one for the next 50 years."

Beckenbauer admits this weekend's FIFA Congress in Marrakesh, Morroco comes at a convenient time to allow football's ruling body celebrate the event while German national television station ZDF will be running a two-hour special on his life on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Beckenbauer is guest of honour at a dinner held by Bavarian President Edmund Stoiber.

"It's nearly embarrassing for me," admits Beckenbauer. "Sure, I've achieved certain things with the World Cup but that is no reason to make a big issue."

But Beckenbauer always has been a big issue. National captain, team captain, club president, World Cup organising committee boss, he really is the "Kaiser".

Beckenbauer started as an 18-year-old earning 160 Marks a month with Bayern Munich. Today, he earns a reputed four million euros a year just from his work with the German mass-circulation paper Bild and is believed to have a personal fortune in excess of 40 million euros.

"Maybe when I was young, I was better than the rest," he explains. "Then you are always pushed to the front and so it has remained."

He also puts his success down to simple hard work.

"A human is born to work and to enjoy, to enjoy work. What I do, gives me pleasure."

While he still enjoys football, it doesn't stoke the emotions as much as in the past.

"You react differently at 60 than you do at 40," he says. "I've become more considerate, more human."

DPA

Subject: German news

Raising his two young children, son Joel (4) and daughter Francesca, is his most important objective now.

DPA

Subject: German news

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