LAST WEEK, the king of German football, Franz Beckenbauer, representing Fifa on his whistle stop tour of 31 competing countries in next year’s football World Cup in Germany, took some time out to pay a visit to the German school in Telheiras, Lisbon.
After receiving rapturous applause from the students, he took centre stage to answer their many football questions. The sports legend then took part in a spot of precision football kicking, which saw him hole one of his footballs in a shoot out challenge, with Sandra Lambeck in a Benfica outfit (who also holed one shot) and Cedric Soares in his Sporting outfit.
One of the many questions put to him was concerning England’s controversial goal against Germany in the 1966 World Cup, which England won. “Still today, wherever I go, taxi drivers and the public ask me that question – it always comes up,” he said. “I was in the penalty box at the time and, in my opinion, it was not a goal, but the British fans started to cheer. The Russian referee allowed the goal and, over my 40 years, I have come to realise that if the ref says it is a goal, it’s a goal.”
When asked how football has changed over the years, by Maria Vasconcelos, he replied: “the game has got faster, more goal orientated, the media is taking a lot more interest.” He also explained that, in his early days, there were two TV channels, now there are hundreds, players have a shorter career and their private lives are scrutinised.
He avoided answering Charlotte Somborn’s question about how many home goals he had scored – well, like all good sportsmen, some questions are best left unanswered.
He gave praise to the way Portugal organised and ran the Euro 2004 football championships, before rushing off on more visits that day.