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The Three Lives of the Kaiser

The Three Lives of the Kaiser

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by Hesse, Uli | Biography & True Stories
Published 11/05/2023 by Simon & Schuster Ltd in the United Kingdom
Hardback | 320 pages
161 x 242 x 28mm | 522g


Franz Beckenbauer - known as 'the Kaiser' - is Germany's greatest-ever footballer and one of the game's biggest icons of all time, a World Cup winner as player and manager. But what is often described as a blessed life has in fact been a rollercoaster ride with stunning highs and bitter lows.

He rose to fame at the 1966 World Cup in England, where after West Germany's final defeat the British press marvelled at the grace of a 'beaten but proud Prussian officer'. Yet there was nothing Prussian about the Bavarian boy who flouted authority, disregarded rules and viewed the traditional German work ethic with the disdain of someone to whom everything comes naturally.

After a glittering early career at Bayern Munich - captaining them to three European Cup victories and pioneering the playmaking libero role in central defence - Beckenbauer made a controversial move to the recently formed New York Cosmos in 1977. Praised as 'the greatest' by none other than Muhammad Ali, he gently warded off overtures from Rudolf Nureyev and partied the night away with Mick Jagger and Grace Jones at Studio 54.

Back home, though, people often wondered what to make of this most famous German athlete who was so un-German. Beckenbauer's country had finally learned to love him by the time he managed the national side to World Cup glory in 1990, but allegations of corruption surrounding Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup have made him a controversial figure all over again. In The Three Lives of the Kaiser, leading football writer Uli Hesse gives us the definitive biography of this truly remarkable legend.

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