The New York Cosmos Mourn the Passing of Franz Beckenbauer

Der Kaiser revolutionized the sport
Published Jan 8, 2024

The New York Cosmos are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary Franz Beckenbauer. Leading West Germany to the World Cup title in 1974 and Bayern Munich to four Bundesliga titles, three European Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup titles, the two-time Ballon d'Or winner (1972 and 1976) joined the Cosmos during the 1977 season at the age of 31. After eight months of negotiations, he signed his contract with the club at a press conference in the Baroque Room at the Plaza Hotel (59th & 5th) on May 25, 1977. His impact was immediate, as he joined his dear friend Pelé on a team that not only captured the league title but also the hearts and minds of what became known as Cosmos Country.

Der Kaiser would win the North American Soccer League three times in his first four seasons with the club (1977, 1978, 1980). Having fulfilled his four-year contract, he left the Cosmos for Hamburger SV, where he won his fifth Bundesliga title. He returned to New York for one more season in 1983. With his calming presence back on the pitch he led the team to a first-place regular season finish. He retired from playing at the end of that season, recording 23 goals and 53 assists in 132 regular season and playoff appearances with the Cosmos.

Beckenbauer was named manager of the West German National Team the next year, leading them to the FIFA World Cup Final in 1986 and then the title in 1990, becoming the first person to win the World Cup as a player and manager. Having managed Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA Cup title in 1996, he served as the club’s president from 1994 to 2009. The chairman of the organizational committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, his accomplishments as a player, manager, and administrator in the game are unsurpassed. No nickname was more apt, as he quite simply won everything there was to win in the sport. 

Beckenbauer was back in Cosmos Country one last time in April 2015 when, together with Pelé, he lit the Empire State Building green.

Werner Roth, captain of the 1977 and 1978 teams, quickly became close with Beckenbauer, often picking up Der Kaiser from his Manhattan apartment on the way to training and matches at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. A deeply saddened Roth had this to say on the news:

“I’d known about Franz since I was a teenager, following him on his National Team and his Bayern Munich career. I saw him play in the ’66 World Cup against England that was broadcast to Madison Square Garden, so he was somewhat of a hero of mine. So getting to play with him and getting to know him, it was unreal. It was kind of a dream come true. But like everything else, you get used to it and he became a good friend. So as you can imagine … it was good times. It is a great loss to the soccer world. And there will probably never be another one like him.” 

His care for the ball and his composure on the pitch was a marvel to behold. His grace on the pitch was matched by his manner off the pitch, as he exemplified cosmopolitan elegance with great kindness and consideration for all blessed to have spent time in his presence. He will forever be cherished among the greatest legends of the beautiful game. 

The New York Cosmos mourn his loss and offer deepest condolences to his family.