In 1990, months after the Berlin Wall came crashing down, West Germany won its third World Cup and Franz Beckenbauer became the first person to win as captain and coach.
Beckenbauer, who many credit with revolutionizing the role of the defender into a more offensive and elegant position, had been part of the World Cup fabric as far back as 1966 when, at the tender age of 20, he played a pivotal role in West Germany's advancement to the World Cup final.
His importance was evident in the fact that England coach Alf Ramsey asked midfielder Bobby Charlton to man-mark Beckenbauer in the final. Beckenbauer, playing in midfield, too, had been given equivalent instructions by coach Helmut Schoen — to man-mark Charlton. And so two of the world's great players cancelled each other out and played peripheral roles in the match England won 4-2.
Beckenbauer came back four years later in 1970 and was again prominent when West Germany avenged that defeat to beat England 3-2 in the quarterfinals, having been two goals down.
In his third World Cup at home in 1974, Beckenbauer finally came out on top when West Germany — the team has a habit of doing this — came from behind to beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the final in Munich.
Beckenbauer became the first captain to lift aloft the new World Cup trophy — Brazil had been given the previous Jules Rimet Trophy on a permanent basis after its third World Cup triumph four years earlier.
Beckenbauer was appointed coach of the West German team in 1984 and surprisingly took a team few thought capable of winning to the 1986 World Cup final against a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Though losing 3-2, Beckenbauer had clearly crafted a team that showcased many of the hallmarks that marked his time as a player — creativity allied to courage and purpose.
In 1990 in Italy, Beckenbauer's team avenged that defeat, deservedly winning a dour final with an 85th-minute penalty from Andreas Brehme. Argentina may have had Maradona but the team was very different to the one that vivaciously triumphed four years earlier, evidenced by the fact that Pedro Monzon became the first player to be sent off in a final. Teammate Gustavo Dezotti became the second.
Whatever depths Argentina fell to in that final, West Germany had joined Brazil in becoming a three-time World Cup winner.
--- By PAN PYLAS , Associated Press