German football icon Bernd Holzenbein, former teammate of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, and 1974 World Cup winner with West Germany dies

Bernd Holzenbein, a former teammate of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller who won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany, has died aged 78
Bernd Holzenbein (right)Bernd Holzenbein (right)
Bernd Holzenbein (right)

German World Cup winner Bernd Holzenbein has died aged 78 following a battle with dementia.

The former Eintracht Frankfurt star was part of the team that came from behind against the Netherlands in 1974 to clinch their second world crown. He would go on to represent West Germany 45 times, predominantly as a winger, scoring five goals.

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Holzenbein remains Frankfurt’s all-time leading goalscorer, with an impressive 160 strikes in 420 Bundesliga games. A bitter blow would come two years later when he lost the Euro 1974 final to Czechoslovakia on penalties - a game made famous by Antonín Panenka’s decisive spot-kick.

Later in life, Holzenbein moved Stateside, representing Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Memphis Americans and Baltimore Blast before moving back to Germany with lower-league club FSV Salmrohr. Like many retired footballers from his era, the ex-winger was diagnosed with dementia, a disease that plagues his latter years.

Holzenbein passed away on Monday evening - sparking an outpour of tributes. A Frankfurt eulogy read: "An Eintracht fan through and through. A legend, as it is written in the books. One of the greatest we have ever had.

"Bernd Holzenbein, an honourary captain of Eintracht, died on Monday at the age of 78 surrounded by his family."

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The Bundesliga website paid tribute to a Frankfurt legend, who remained a passionate fan until the end. Their statement read: "Illness meant the former striker could only follow his beloved Eintracht on TV but his name will forever be remembered around the Waldstadion, where his status as the club’s greatest-ever goalscorer is set to hold for many more years."

The news comes just months after former international teammate and fellow German icon Franz Beckenbauer passed away. Gerd Muller, another all-time great from that side, died in 2021.

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