German Ambassador to Seoul Stephan Auer delivered the decoration from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a ceremony at the German Embassy in Seoul.
Cha played in the Bundesliga in Germany from 1978 to 1989. Scoring 98 goals in 308 matches, he was rated as one of the best Asian players in the top German league.
He also won two UEFA Cups, one each with Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen.
Cha coached South Korea at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. In 2017, he became the first football player to enter South Korea's Sports Hall of Fame.
Late former President Kim Dae-jung and late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan also received the order of merit. (Yonhap)