How did you get your nickname, Der Kaiser? And do you like it? Adam Powers, via Facebook So there are still people out there who do not know this? [smiles] Well, in the late 1960s I travelled to Vienna with Bayern for a friendly game. An insurance company sponsored the match and even in these days insurance companies had impressive head offices. They had a sculpture of Franz Joseph I, the former emperor of Austria, in their entrance hall. A journalist was bored so he told me to stand next to it for a picture. He took this photo of me next to Kaiser Franz and sold it to several newspapers. That was it – I was ‘the Kaiser’.
The German FA’s secretary-general Wolfgang Niersbach once said: “Wherever Franz Beckenbauer appears, people do not just recognise him – they worship him.” Why do you think people admire you so much? Michael Neudecker, Starnberg Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve always tried to be friendly to everybody; to talk to people, involve them. This is just the way I am. There are athletes who like to interact with their fans, and others who don’t.
No one made football look as easy as you. Was your elegance on the ball deliberate? Robert, Munich Maybe one can try to play especially elegantly against a weak opponent, but I never gave much thought as to how I looked on the field. In the early days there were no TV cameras filming us, and even later when there were, we did not analyse our game the way it is done nowadays. So I simply played the way I played.
You joined Bayern’s youth side despite being a big fan of their rivals TSV 1860 Munich, who played in a higher league at that time. Why did you pick Bayern? I read something about a controversial U14 game… Jeff Stevens, Birmingham
”With Muller and myself, 1860 would have won the European Cup five times in a row ”
Yes, my  opponent slapped me in the face during the game – we call this a watschn in Bavaria. There is no bigger affront or insult in football – well, maybe spitting in someone’s face – but the watschn was enough for me. Afterwards I told my friends, “I will not play for these rowdies”. Five of us had previously planned to join 1860 after that season. I told them I would not, and my friends followed my decision, which I did not expect them to do. So we all went to Bayern instead.
Legendary striker Gerd Muller had been close to joining 1860 Munich before he chose Bayern. If you’d both joined 1860 instead, would it be fair to say no one today would know of Bayern? Thomas B, via Twitter Absolutely! With Gerd Muller and Franz Beckenbauer, 1860 would have won the European Cup five times in a row, plus 20 German championships, at least! [laughs]
Why have Bayern Munich led the way in Germany for so long? Fabian Richter, via Facebook The people in charge. Since the club made it into the top league 46 years ago, we have always had a great and stable management. People like Uli Hoeness, who resigned
Above/Below Top of the world in ’90 and ’74 – but please don’t make him choose last season as the club’s general manager after 30 years. As former players we all feel very dedicated to Bayern – the club always comes first. But we were lucky too. After the 1972 Olympics we could use this fantastic new stadium in Munich. This allowed us to make a huge step forward, just like the newly built Allianz Arena did after the 2006 World Cup.
How would you compare 1973-76 Bayern Munich with 2008-11 Barcelona? Jonathan Kan, via Twitter You can’t. Football then and football nowadays is almost like a different sport. The players are much better equipped, much better trained. Modern boots, modern balls, modern tactics, modern players – it all fits so well together.
Things did fit together in my day too but this was a different level. You know what
I envy the most from today’s game? The pitches. In the ’60s the lawn was in a good shape for maybe a month at the beginning of the season. From there on we played in the mud,
with ice and snow in the winter. One-touch football – give-and-go – was simply not possible on such a surface. But look at the lawn in the Allianz Arena or any other big stadium. It’s perfect, like a golf course. I almost do not dare to step on the grass anymore!
12 October 2011 FourFourTwo.com Battling with Cruyff in the ’74 World Cup Final. Where were you, Berti Vogts?
How come Germany has always had great goalkeepers? Sepp Maier, goalkeeping legend and former Bayern team-mate
That’s true. It all started with Toni Turek in the 1954 World Cup. For me, the keeper is the most important person on the field. I think Germany was the first football nation to introduce training methods for goalkeepers, in the 1970s.
We can watch the Bundesliga in England now, and I’m always impressed by the atmosphere and huge crowds at games. What is German football doing right that Europe’s other big leagues are doing wrong? Phil J, Bristol The answer is simple: look at our stadiums. After the 2006 World Cup we had many new stadiums and new kinds of supporters came to watch games – families and women. Of course there are still the ultras, but the modern football arena has become a family friendly place. Thirty or 40 years ago, our stadiums didn’t even have restrooms for women, so for a girl, going to a stadium was a bit much. Today almost half of the audience is female. People bring their kids and they spend a lot more hours in the stadium on a matchday. When I’m going to a game, I arrive one hour early and try to get something to eat, meet friends, have a drink, stay for the evening.
You joined Hamburg in 1980. How did it feel to play against Bayern? And how did your old club’s supporters react? Gary Buckley, Bolton I left Bayern Munich in 1977 to join the New York Cosmos. So when I came back to the Bundesliga – this was something I had never planned to do when I left for the US – three years had gone by and minds had cooled off a bit. Actually I was given a warm welcome in Munich. I never had any trouble with fans.
You once said, “German football is not about magic and beauty, it’s about hard work – this is how we win games.” Looking back at the 4-1 demolition of Argentina in the World
Cup and with stars like Schweinsteiger and Özil in the national team, is this still true? Jeff Lerner, via email It’s not true. The last World Cup in South Africa changed a lot. A new generation has taken over and they have a great role model to look up to: Barcelona. They define the technical and tactical aspects of football like no other team. Bayern is another team that tries to dominate the match with their short passing game, and I also think getting to the Champions League final just before the World Cup last year benefited Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Muller a lot.
Who is your favourite German player at the moment? Flo Freyer, Hamburg I don’t have one favourite. I like to watch Manuel Neuer, who will play for Bayern Munich this season. Manuel is a world-class goalkeeper. Then there is Philipp Lahm, a man you can always count on and one that can play in every position. Mario Gomez is another in great form. There are a lot of good players I could name, so yes, Germany does play a different type of football than we used to. You could see this coming: our youth teams have played well for some time at the European Championships.
Above Barcelona: a role model for every team, says Franz Below Alongside Muller in Bayern red, rather than the blue of city rivals 1860
Why did you never play for an English or a Spanish team? We’d have loved to have seen you over here. Jason Ball, Reading The closest I came to such a move was when I was offered to play for Barcelona. The club’s coach Hennes Weisweiler called me to ask me over. But he got fired a few months later [in 1976], so I lost interest.
1974, 1990, 2006 – which World Cup was most important for you? Jon Hicks, Kent They are three unforgettable moments: 1974
as captain, 1990 as coach, 2006 as head of the World Cup organising committee. 2006 was maybe the most important as it changed the way people outside Germany saw us. Even when we lost against Italy in the semis we showed our best side. But then again, Italy 1990
was fantastic too –
to become world champions in such a football crazy country. And in
FourFourTwo.com October 2011 13