German Toni Kroos, the Real Madrid player, called for the need to show more respect and appreciation to the country's sporting icons during their lives, following the death of Franz Beckenbauer last Sunday at the age of 78.
Beckenbauer is considered the greatest football player in Germany, as he won many titles with Bayern Munich, which he coached and headed after the end of his career as a player, and won the World Cup as a player and coach.
But his reputation was tarnished years later in connection with suspicious payments during Germany's hosting of the 2006 World Cup, where Beckenbauer was head of the organizing committee.
Beckenbauer has virtually disappeared from the public eye since then, and former Bayern Munich player Kroos said on his podcast that icons like Beckenbauer deserve better treatment.
Kroos, the 2014 World Cup winner and current Real Madrid player, said, “No person is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and he certainly made a mistake, too.”
He added, “Let us acknowledge that there are those who are truly great and good and deserve to be celebrated. Above all, he deserves to be celebrated for the achievements he has achieved throughout his life.”
People are often underestimated after they become celebrities in Germany, Kroes said, and Günter Gebauer, a former professor of sports sociology at the University of Berlin, agreed.
“For a long time, he was in an untouchable place, he was not treated like a normal person,” Gebauer told the German news agency DPA about Beckenbauer, known as “Caesar” and “Bright Light.”
He added, “From time to time there are some people who try to belittle celebrities, but this did not happen to him for a long time because of his great, tangible achievements… With Beckenbauer, you can see his fame in every match. He never ceased to amaze everyone.”
He continued, “With Franz Beckenbauer, we had the experience of an ordinary person turning into a supernatural person, as was the case with Pele, Diego Maradona, and more recently Messi. From time to time there are people who seem to perform extraordinary feats. The public is ready to believe this.”
He explained, “Beckenbauer was a relatively simple person from his upbringing, but he quickly rose to the world of legends and remained there almost throughout his life. But after a while he felt frustrated, at least to some extent, after the controversy surrounding Germany's hosting of the 2006 World Cup.”
A memorial service for Beckenbauer will take place later in the day, when state officials led by Prime Minister Markus Söder and Bayern representatives will sign a book of condolences in Munich, and interested members of the public can do the same.
The German Football Association and the League announced a minute of silence in the matches held over the weekend, which will begin with Bayern Munich’s match against Hoffenheim the day after tomorrow, Friday.
The Allianz Arena was lit up with the phrase, “Thank you, Franz,” and Bayern announced that a memorial service would be held for club legend Beckenbauer on the 19th of this month.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – who played alongside Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich and played under him in the national team before becoming the club's CEO – was the first to suggest holding a memorial service.
Rummenigge was keen to immortalize Beckenbauer's memory once again after he wrote an article in the Bild newspaper on Wednesday in which he said: “Life may end, but friendship does not die.”