Franz Beckenbauer

ULLSTEIN BILD

THE CHAMP: Beckenbauer, seen here in 1965, was the first man to take home the World Cup both as captain in 1974 and as manager in 1990

Growing up in Germany, football, not tennis, was the most important sport. And there was one name that was associated with football like no other — Franz Beckenbauer. Whether captaining his club, Bayern Munich, or the national team, he won absolutely everything you could win in football.

So it was no surprise to me that when my country pledged to make the 2006 World Cup the most successful in history, officials summoned Beckenbauer to head the national effort. And he didn't disappoint, applying grace and intelligence to the massive task. Though our team finished third, the...

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