“Let’s change it to Beckenbauer Stadium!”
The passing of German soccer giant and Bayern Munich’s eternal “Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer has prompted some to suggest that Munich’s home Allianz Arena should be renamed after Beckenbauer.
Beckenbauer is one of the all-time greats in the history of world soccer, and during his 14-year career in Munich, he led the club to four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal titles, and three European Cups (the predecessor to the UEFA Champions League).
He was highly prized by both his club and country. Playing for the West German national team, Beckenbauer won the European Championship in 1972 and was part of the team that won the 1974 World Cup on home soil, defeating nemesis Johan Cruyff’s Netherlands in the final.
He also won World Cups after turning to coaching. He led the West German national team to the 1990 World Cup in Italy and won the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup with Munich.
Beckenbauer, who served as Munich’s president until 2002 and was honorary president of the club this year, played a crucial role in cementing the club’s status as a German powerhouse, developing and recruiting numerous star players.
Since 2021, however, his health has rapidly deteriorated and he has effectively retired from the game. He battled eye problems, heart surgery, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Eventually, he passed away on August 8 at the age of 78.
The idea to rename the stadium in his honor came from none other than Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Munich mastermind and one of Germany’s greatest football managers, nicknamed “The Winner”. German soccer publication Bavarian Football Works reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with Hitzfeld.
“Beckenbauer, along with Gert Muller, Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is the one who brought Munich to where it is today,” Hitzfeld told German media outlet T, adding that the Allianz Arena should be renamed the Franz Beckenbauer Stadium.
“Beckenbauer is the GOAT,” he continued. “He’s one of the few people who has been successful as a coach and a player,” he continued, “because he achieved everything he could as a player. He was revered everywhere, and he was also a very good person.”
Munich, which currently has an annual sponsorship from German insurance company Allianz, completed its current home in 2005, handing over the naming rights for 30 years to Allianz, which paid for about a third of the construction costs. “Munich fans may all agree with Hitzfeld’s idea, but only Allianz will oppose it,” Bavarian Football Works said, adding that the renaming is unlikely to happen easily.
Naming a stadium after a legend is a common tribute.
Spanish giants Real Madrid renamed their stadium after Santiago Bernabeu, an early 1900s legend who spent nearly 70 years with the club as a player, manager, and president.
Real’s rivals Barcelona also named their second team stadium Estadio Johan Cruyff after the club’s legendary player and especially coach, who built Barcelona’s youth development system. The Ajax Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was also renamed the Johan Cruyff Stadium.