On July 30th 1966 the man who created what is now in football parlance considered the “Libero” position was twenty one years of age when he played alongside Karl-Heinz Schellinger; Willi Schulz, Wolfgang Weber, Helmut Haller, Uwe Seeler and Wolfgang Overath – and did not look out of place. In fact, he was probably directing the team on that day too in the same way he has continued to oversee German football for the past forty four years since losing that final.
Which to be fair, has been a very successful four decades for German teams.
Indeed since the fateful day that those red jerseys of England won the match - four two after extra time - Germany have reached the World Cup Final six times; 1974, 1982, 1986, 1990 and 2002, winning it twice in 1974 and 1990. They have twice reached the semi finals – in 1970 losing to Italy in Mexico and in 2006 losing to the eventual winners Italy; with three trips to the quarterfinals – Argentina 1978, France 1998 losing to Croatia and then USA 1994 losing to Bulgaria in the “Old” Giants Stadium.
As this week Beckenbauer speaks his mind about the England team and sends the English Red Tops into over drive, he sets the tone for what is an important match for both teams in the round of last 16. Being in the limelight is not an unfamiliar position for the main born in Bavaria sixty five years ago.
With an unparalleled record Beckenbauer has had a lengthy career in the game ball since e that Wembley setback to Bobby Moore, Bobby and Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Geoff Hurst. Indeed, four years later Germany beat England in the quarterfinals in Estadio de Guanajato in Leon with Franz Beckenbauer getting to the semi finals where he played most of the game with a broken collar bone and a dislocated shoulder after a fall during West Germany’s semi-final against Italy.
Italy won in that classic match after extra time by 4-3.
In 1974 he captained the German team to victory in his homeland and then led them to a losing final in the EURO 1976 hosted in the former Yugoslavia against Czechoslovakia. Having retired from international football he did not travel to Argentina in 1978 but returned in 1984 as the National Coach of the German Team and his career as coach is equally as impressive.
In the Azteca stadium in Mexico in 1986 West Germany lost to Diego Maradona's Argentina when goals from Jose Brown, Jorge Valdano and Javier Burruchaga sorted the final out in favour of the South American maestros. Then in 1990, having beaten England on penalties in Turin, his team then went on to meet Argentina once again in the final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. In what was an unremarkable final they emerged winners by one goal to nil.
As a result only two men have won the FIFA World Cup both as a player and coach - Brazil's Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. But in the 2010 World Cup Diego Armando Maradona has the chance to join that elite club if his team beat Mexico in Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday and go on to win the final.
Zagallo, an inside forward/left winger, twice picked up the Jules Rimet trophy as a player - in 1958 and 1962. He went on to guide his country to FIFA World Cup glory in 1970 and was also the assistant to Carlos Alberto Parreira during Brazil's triumphant 1994 campaign in the
Although he made his international debut against Ukraine in May 2000 at the same age as Franz Beckenbauer it was in EURO 2000 that Liverpool stalwart Steven Gerrard became a fully paid up member of the England squad after an appearance as a substitute in the sixty first minute at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi in Belgium against Germany, with his side leading by one goal courtesy of Alan Shearer in the 54th minute.
Wearing the infamous red shirts and white shorts that day England recorded a win in the group stages against a German side that included Lotthar Matthaus and Dietmar Hamann. On that occasion Germany would remain bottom of the group - securing only one point with draws against Romania, losing to England and Portugal.
For England the result was not enough either and Portugal moved on to the quarterfinals as they topped the group. However at the time the victory by Kevin Keegan's team over Germany went some way to avenging a string of defeats to the Old Enemy in particular the loss by penalties in the semi-finals of Euro ‘96.
For Steven Gerrard the next meeting with Germany would be in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers with the first game at Wembley in October 2000, which England lost by one goal after Dietmar Hamann scored in the thirteenth minute without reply.
Such was the sense of the drama amidst the imminent demolition of the Old Wembley the England manager, Kevin Keegan, resigned his position by the time he had reached the dressing rooms that day leaving the squad in disarray in defeat and seeking a replacement in mid campaign.
Ahead of the return match about a year later there had been two England managers with Sven Goran Ericsson the incumbent on the night of the 2002 World Cup qualifier at the Olympicstadion in Muenich on September 1st 2001 - the same day that the Republic of Ireland recorded a historic result at Lansdowne Road to snatch the final group place from Holland. That night Steven Gerrard was in Muenich to line out once again against a German XI with David Beckham as his Captain.
The result that night threw aside many of the myths between England and Germany for a new generation of players - all too young to remember Leon in 1970 but perhaps Turin in 1990 - cutting apart the home side by 5 goals to one – with Stevie Gerrard also getting on the score sheet that evening. Of those players that night nine years ago in Muenich four are likely to be playing when England meet Germany in the 2010 World Cup in the round of last 16 - they include Emile Heskey, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and David Beckham - who is now part of Fabio Capello's backroom team.
Although that night the England team wore the traditional white tops and blue shorts with the home side Germany playing in their green alternate strip on Sunday in Mangaung/Bloemfontein England will wear the infamous 1966 red strip yet again. Regardless one does not expect this generation of players to be worried about that superstition as the wins and losses in either colour kit seem to balance out on closer analysis.
In EURO 1996 the England strip the day they lost to Germany on penalties were blue/grey short and shorts. Under Stuart Pearce's suggestion the colour is probably now banned from the squad for ever more given he missed his second penalty in that tournament.
At the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein this Sunday that young lad that played in Charleroi for twenty minutes, Steven Gerrard, now leads out England against Germany in team that has two players that were on the losing side that night in Muenich in 2001 – Miroslav Klose and the Assistant Manager Oliver Bierhoff.
These two Germans are the generation of players who know they can lose to England - unlike Franz Beckenbauer - because it has happened before and it happened to them.
The odds on Sunday are that it will happen again with England then having to face another old enemy – Argentina.