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S. Korea coach Klinsmann pays tribute to late Beckenbauer

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 9, 2024 - 21:02

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Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the South Korean men's national football team (Yonhap) Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the South Korean men's national football team (Yonhap)

Jurgen Klinsmann, German-born head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, bid an emotional farewell to his late former coach and German football legend Franz Beckenbauer on Tuesday, calling him a mentor and a father-like figure for players on the 1990 FIFA World Cup champion West Germany team.

Beckenbauer passed away in Austria on Sunday at age 78. His family first sent a note to the German news agency dpa, and the German football federation later confirmed Beckenbauer's death.

Beckenbauer was widely considered one of the greatest football players and managers ever. He won the 1974 FIFA World Cup as captain of West Germany and then coached his country to the 1990 World Cup title, with Klinsmann playing an integral part in that run. Beckenbauer was the first to win the World Cup as team captain and then head coach.

According to the Korea Football Association, Klinsmann addressed his players regarding Beckenbauer's passing before a training session Tuesday in Abu Dhabi for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup. The KFA said Klinsmann fought back tears as he discussed the impact Beckenbauer had on him.

In a separate video message released by the KFA, Klinsmann said this was "a very, very, very sad day" for German people.

"Franz Beckenbauer was the leader of German football for many decades. He was, with Pele, the best player in the world in the 60s, 70s and 80s," Klinsmann said. "He was an amazing, amazing player and then he became coach and he coached us to win the World Cup. He brought the World Cup to Germany in 2006, which they called in Germany a summer fairy tale we created.

"He was a wonderful personality, always friendly, always polite, always grateful," Klinsmann continued. "He was, for us players in those days, our mentor, was almost like a father. The football world is very sad. Germany loses its most charismatic leader in sports over the last many decades."