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Free spirits on the field: the legacy of the libero

Free spirits on the field: the legacy of the libero

Franz Beckenbauer made him a great player, but then the libero fell victim to football's evolution. However, cult status still exists in exceptional talents like David Alaba.

Franz Beckenbauer embodied him like no other, but who actually invented him, the libero, the “free man” on the pitch? This “sweeper” who went from destroying the game to shaping the game and thus shaping the history of football. Was it Viennese coach Karl Rabanne who was looking for a recipe to overcome the superior competition of the “Swiss Rigel” in the 1930s? Italian Gipo Viani, pioneer of catenaccio in Milan in the 1950s? Or is it the Argentine Helenio Herrera, who formed “Grand Inter” with cleanliness behind the defense in the 1960s, and from him the word libero came to us?

What is clear is that libero was not a new concept when Beckenbauer entered football. However, it was the football artist from Munich that catapulted him to cult status; It freed him from individual monitoring and distances, and gave him an attacking spirit and elegance, and thus he dominated the world of football with Bayern Munich and the German national team. Beckenbauer died on Sunday at the age of 78, and the libero is long past his prime. However, this style never completely disappeared, and some elements of Beckenbauer's style survive to this day.

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