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Bayern Munich great calls his Cosmos days "the greatest time of my life"

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Grant Wahl recently sat down with former Cosmos player Franz Beckenbauer, and his piece for SI is definitely worth the time it takes to read. Among the topics discussed was Beckenbauer's time in New York, and the German legend spoke glowingly about it:

"It was the greatest time of my life. I could walk down 5th Avenue and some Europeans or South Americans might say hello, but the Americans didn’t know about me. All my teammates lived in Hoboken or Fort Lee, but a friend of mine said, ‘Don’t go there. Stay in Manhattan.’ And he was right. I stayed in the Central Park area, and it was the best time of my life."

It's not hard to picture life in Manhattan being more fun than Munich in the late 70s and early 80s, if for no other reason than the political climate. It sounds as if Beckenbauer really enjoyed the anonymity of his time in the U.S. though, something that's probably been awfully hard to come by since his spell with the Cosmos ended.

Wahl also asked him to compare the experience of playing in the U.S. to what it is today:

"It’s night and day. We were like the pioneers. By 1977 we had all the great stars [outside the Cosmos] like Johan Cruyff, Gerd Müller, George Best. They all played once in America. But we played on artificial turf and on baseball fields with lines. Now you have your own stadiums. It’s different. Soccer is part of the sports now in the U.S."

He's certainly correct that the sport is gaining a foothold in the U.S., and hopefully the Cosmos will be one of those clubs to get their own, soccer specific stadium very soon.