Of course the sun came out, a cold breeze blew away the clouds over the north of Munich, clearing the view. Blue sky. Sunny weather. As ordered. So that he, the shining figure who was mourned on this Friday afternoon, could look down from above on his family, his friends, his companions, his admirers and fans.

The farewell to football legend Franz Beckenbauer, who died on January 7th at the age of 78, did justice to him and his life’s achievements. A worthy event that created moments that last – despite all the sadness and melancholy. The funeral service, hosted and organized by his youth and heart club FC Bayern Munich, paid homage to the former player, coach and president of Bayern, who was buried on Friday a week ago in the immediate family circle in the Perlacher Forst cemetery in his parents’ family grave.

Whether there is life after death? No answer would be more appropriate at this point than the emperor’s legendary saying “Let’s take a look.” And this is how the avowed Catholic, who was guided by Christian values, also thought about life after death. “I believe that the soul of every person returns to where it came from. After all, in the infinite universe there is room for everyone,” he once mused, adding: “Of course there is no evidence of this, only belief in it . But faith alone helps many people.” Beckenbauer prayed the Lord’s Prayer every day, went to church regularly – when he was still able – and said: “This is how I gain strength and strength.” Faith always gave him support; for him, death was just the end of everything earthly. “Then it’s not all over, I’m sure,” said Beckenbauer.

In front of his wife Heidi and those of their two children Joel and Francesca as well as Beckenbauer’s brother Walter, who is four years older than him, the honorary ceremony began in the Allianz Arena with trombone sounds (“New York”), a saxophone interpretation (“My Way”) and the Tölzer boys’ choir, which performed the club anthem “Star of the South”, “Football is our life” and the Beckenbauer classic “No one can separate good friends”. Some of the visitors, numerous greats from sport, politics and society, including tennis icon Boris Becker, the former ski racer Christian Neureuther as well as the current (Julian Nagelsmann) and the former (Hansi Flick) national coach and the entire professional men’s and women’s teams, agreed reverently.

“Good Friends” – the catchy and worn 60s hit by Beckenbauer himself was the leitmotif of the funeral service. The approximately 30,000 visitors who had secured free tickets were able to ease the lump in their throats at the last, emotional hurrah for their emperor. A football stadium as a place for mourning – strange, but appropriate. No cheers, no instructions from the coaches, no commands from the players. Other emotions. Tens of thousands of thoughts and memories that flew towards the sky, which was bright blue and cloudless after a cloudy and foggy morning. The setting couldn’t have been more worthy.

To the sound of the aria “Con te partirò”, sung live by star tenor Jonas Kaufmann, eleven close friends and companions of the emperor each placed a red rose in the center circle in front of the wreaths: Rainer Bonhof, Andreas Brehme, Paul Breitner, Lothar Matthäus, Günter Netzer, Wolfgang Overath, Franz “Bulle” Roth, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Hans-Georg “Katsche” Schwarzenbeck, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Berti Vogts. This was how the actual funeral service began. A huge podium was set up in the lower tier of the north stand, framed by three black and white portraits of Beckenbauer. Next to the lectern there is a red wreath from FC Bayern with the inscription “Thank you Franz”, who once said: “FC Bayern is my home. I don’t know what my life would have been like without FC Bayern.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a guest in the official gallery, did not give a speech – and thus avoided possible whistles. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke in favor of this and emphasized: “For so many, Beckenbauer was a role model – a stroke of luck for all of us. On behalf of all Germans, I say today: Thank you for everything!” In further speeches, club president Herbert Hainer (“Franz, you were always one of us – mia san Franz!”), Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (“Franz was not arrogant, not dismissive. I think that he cared so much for people “impressive.”) and Honorary President Uli Hoeneß. The close friend and teammate of the 1974 World Cup team spoke touching words, saying: “Dear Franz, you have been dead for eleven days now. I miss you very much. Rest in peace!” In between, a film garnished with the most beautiful pictures and greatest successes of Kaiser’s career resulted in minutes of applause. First hesitantly, then louder and more frenetic. The people rose.

The mourning ceremony, which lasted around 75 minutes, ended with a prayer spoken by Cardinal Reinhard Marx and the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma” performed by tenor Kaufmann. As they leisurely left the arena, some fans chanted what remains in their minds alongside the adoration and the images: “No one can separate good friends, good friends are never alone!”

Now we can kick off above the clouds. With the arrival of the emperor, the heavenly world selection is likely to be reassembled. They finally have a libero up there who, as a free spirit, organizes the play of all the offensive artists in front of the defense. What would it look like, the best team of all deceased footballers?

In the goal is the Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin († 1990), according to Germany’s goalkeeper idol Sepp Maier, the best representative of his craft in the 50s and 60s. Jaschin, known as the “Black Panther”, revolutionized goalkeeping far ahead of Manuel Neuer and was defeated 2-1 by the DFB team led by Beckenbauer, one of the goal scorers, in the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup in England. Afterwards, Jaschin hugged the 20-year-old Beckenbauer appreciatively.

The emperor organizes the defense – of course. But what does defense mean? Carlos Alberto († 2016) sweeps forward from the right-back position. He contributed to the Brazilians’ World Cup title in Mexico in 1970. At the end of the 70s he played together with Beckenbauer at Cosmos New York. The captain of England’s victorious 1966 World Cup team – even in heaven there is still a lively discussion about the Wembley goal – supports the defense. Bobby Moore († 1993) is considered one of the best defensive players of all time.

The midfield of the heavenly world selection has an unearthly sound. There is Garrincha († 1983), the best right winger of his time and world champion with the Brazilian Seleção in 1958 and 1962. Next to him is Bobby Charlton, who died in October at the age of 86, a close friend of Beckenbauer and personal opponent in the 1966 World Cup final. Strong on both feet and with a high level of tactical understanding, he led the British to triumph in their own country. In heaven he could use Eusébio († 2014), the agile Portuguese striker who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, as well as the Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff († 2014), probably the best and most tricky footballer in Europe in the 70s . Beckenbauer and Cruyff met as captains in the 1974 World Cup final in Munich, which the DFB team won 2-1.

Finally, the offensive triumvirate that is second to none. There is Brazil’s football legend Pelé († 2022) and Argentina’s idol Diego Maradona († 2020), who have long had a date for a match made in heaven. “Hopefully one day we will play football together in heaven,” Pelé said in November 2020 after Maradona’s death. Diego, world champion in 1986 (when he led his team to a 3-2 win against the Germans coached by Franz Beckenbauer) is idolized in Argentina in a similar way to Pelé in Brazil, who was the only player on earth to become world champion three times. Pelé mixed US soccer with the Kaiser at Cosmos New York, and both became pop idols.

You can’t get more football magic than that. And who transforms the templates of the kicking artists? Of course Gerd Müller († 2021), the best German striker of all time, the nation’s bomber and eternal companion at FC Bayern and friend of Beckenbauer. “Gerd is the origin. In my eyes he is the most important player in the history of FC Bayern,” the Kaiser once said. Now they are reunited in heaven.

Nobody can split good friends.