Leadership was the German football icon’s greatest strength

The Libero: Franz Beckenbauer, here 1972 Image: Picture Alliance

What today’s national team lacks cannot be trained. Franz Beckenbauer radiated what no other German radiated on the pitch: unchallenged leadership culture.

What connects Franz Beckenbauer with the national soccer team, which wants to unite people behind it again at the European Championships in Germany in a few months? Few. The obituaries paint the picture of a magician of football who fascinated his spectators with the elegance and lightness of his game. Standing upright, adjusting from the ankle, not making too much movement, Beckenbauer showed nothing of the hard, sweaty work, the ambition and doggedness with which the Germans were characterized when they had once again asserted themselves.

He didn’t seem to be working hard like the players at Schalke, he seemed to be floating across the field, usually one step, especially one thought, ahead of his hunters. In the martial art of football, with his slats plowing through the grass, he kept everyone at a distance. This wasn’t a 90-minute job. That was an art. And not an unemployed one, as in Germany, even after Beckenbauer’s time on the field, people mockingly said of those who could do everything with the ball but never won titles. Beckenbauer won whatever was important to win.

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