Franz Beckenbauer (1945-2024) had two great passions in his life: football and women. And the now deceased shining light of German football never made a secret of it. Quite the opposite: Whenever he was asked about his private life, the reporters heard a casual comment. His statement about the illegitimate child that he fathered as a married man at a Bavarian Christmas party is legendary: “The good Lord is happy about every child.”

Franz Beckenbauer became a father for the first time at the age of 18. His girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Ingrid Grönke gave him his first son Thomas (61) in 1963. In Munich in the 1960s, an illegitimate child was still a real scandal for many people. But not for Beckenbauer, as his former girlfriend described years later in the book “Franz Beckenbauer. The Free Man”: “I would have liked to jump into the Isar. Franz just said: Oh, let the others talk! He was completely unmoved .”

Around a year after separating from Grönke in 1966, Beckenbauer married for the first time. He previously fell in love with the secretary Brigitte Wittmann (1945-2021) and then went to the altar with her when he was just 21 years old. The two had two sons, Michael (*1966) and Stephan (1968-2015), and also welcomed their first-born Thomas into the family. Brigitte later adopted her husband’s son. Brigitte Beckenbauer quickly found herself in the classic role model of the time and took care of the children and the home.

The current ARD documentary “Beckenbauer” also features an old statement from the emperor at the time, who openly admitted this. At the age of 23, he suddenly found himself in the middle of a family of five, but actually only had football on his mind. That’s why he didn’t always live up to his responsibilities: “I couldn’t take care of family problems.” The separation from Brigitte took place in 1977 and finally the divorce in 1990. In the book mentioned above, Brigitte also identified Beckenbauer’s abstinence as a family man as a crucial problem: “There were only appointments, games, the national team, autograph sessions… Franz was never interested in a trip with the children, that never existed.”

After the separation, the photographer Diana Sandmann, whom he met at the wedding of his manager Robert Schwan (1921-2002) before his marriage to Brigitte, appeared more and more often at Beckenbauer’s side. Initially, he naturally kept his relationship with Diana a secret, but after the official separation, Sandmann even moved to New York City for Franz Beckenbauer. At that time, the Kaiser was kicking the ball for Cosmos. The relationship lasted around eleven years before Beckenbauer once again separated from his love for another woman.

Franz Beckenbauer had known Sybille Weimar (76) since the 1970s, when she worked for the DFB while Beckenbauer was active as a national player. Beckenbauer had been working as a coach for the DFB since the mid-1980s, and the two’s paths crossed again. In April 1990 the two exchanged vows in Kitzbühel, but the childless marriage once again did not last until the end of their lives. It was initially widely publicized that Beckenbauer fathered his fourth child with FC Bayern secretary Heidrun Burmester (57) at the legendary Bayern Christmas party in 1999. Son Joel-Maximilian (23) was born in August 2000.

“Yes, it’s true. I stand by it,” said Beckenbauer, giving in to public pressure in an “Bild” interview. Of course he will take care of the child and take care of it. He talked to his wife Sybille about it: “Our marriage is strong. We will stay together. And everything will be the same as before.” However, he was unable to completely keep the promise.

Although the marriage to Sybille lasted until 2002, in the end the two were unable to save their love: Beckenbauer wanted to take more care of his son Joel-Maximilian and, after separating from Sybille, he got together with Heidrun, known as Heidi. The two had another child in 2003. Beckenbauer’s first daughter was born: Francesca Antonie (20). In June 2006, during “his” World Cup in Germany, he married Heidrun Burmester in a very intimate setting. His love for Heidi would last until the end of his life.

Remarkable: Despite the fact that Franz Beckenbauer, as a bon vivant, left his wives several times for a new love, none of his exes ever publicly said a bad word about the emperor. On the contrary. In numerous interviews, his great former loves Sybille, Diana and Brigitte always attested to his extraordinary warmth and friendliness – despite openly discussed deficits in their respective relationships. Dirty laundry or even mudslinging in public? Completely missing.

This affection for Franz Beckenbauer apparently lasts even after his death. His ex-wife Sybille posted a picture of her former husband on the night of Monday to Tuesday and wrote: “You were a great person! A great personality, a lovable and loving person.” She even garnished her post with three red heart emojis.