Franz Anton Beckenbauer (born 11 September 1945) is a German former professional footballer and manager. Early in his playing career he was nicknamed Der Kaiser ("The Emperor") because of his elegant style, dominance and leadership on the field, and also as his first name "Franz" is reminiscent of the Austrian emperors. He is widely regarded to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. A versatile player who started out as a midfielder, Beckenbauer made his name as a central defender. He is often credited as having invented the role of the modern sweeper or libero.