Player profile - Gunnar Nordahl

Discussion in 'Scandinavia' started by Bauser, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
    GUNNAR NORDAHL

    [​IMG]

    Full Name: Gunnar Nordahl

    Born: 19 October 1921 (Hörnefors, Sweden).
    Died: 15 September 1995 (Alghero, Italy)

    Nicknames: Störsten (the biggest), Il Pompiere (the fireman), Il Bisonte (the buffalo).

    Position: Striker

    Caps: Sweden (1942-1948) 33 / 43 goals

    Domestic League Games:
    Sweden - Level III (1937-1940) 41 / 68 goals
    Sweden - Level I (1940-1949) 172 / 149 goals
    Italy – Level I (1949-1958) 291 / 225 goals

    Domestic Cup Games:
    Sweden – Not available
    (Coppa Italia not staged between 1944-1958)

    Sweden’s Footballer of the Year:
    1947

    Clubs:
    Hörnefors (1937-1940)
    Degerfors (1940-1944)
    IFK Norrköping (1944-1949)
    AC Milan (1949-1956)
    AS Roma (1956-1958)
    Karlstads BIK (1959-1961) – player/manager

    Trophies won:
    Olympics: 1948
    Latin Cup: 1951, 1956
    Swedish Championship: 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948
    Swedish Cup: 1945
    Italian Championship: 1951, 1955

    Top goalscorer titles (number of goals):
    Olympics – 1948 (7)
    Swedish league – 1943 (14), 1945 (27), 1946 (25), 1948 (18)
    Serie A – 1950 (35), 1951 (34), 1953 (26), 1954 (23), 1955 (27)


    Gunnar Nordahl is arguably the finest player ever to come from the Nordic region and was Sweden’s first ever foreign based professional footballer. Raised in the tough northern parts of Sweden he was one of five football playing brothers – three of them, including Gunnar, also became national team players.

    May be one can blame “bad timing of birth” for Nordahl not being able to shine on the biggest stages. He was too young to take part in any of the pre-WW II World Cups, too old to have any lasting impact on European club competitions and unlucky that Sweden’s football federation banned foreign based professionals at national team level when he could have been a valuable asset at both the 1950 and 1954 World Cups which coincided with his free-scoring Milan era. By 1958, when his home country hosted, pros were allowed back into the team, but Nordahl had just retired from top flight football by then. Instead he and his pro-colleagues had to settle for “proffslandslaget” – the national team for pros who played only against Swedish city teams.

    Nordahl was strong, had speed and remarkable shooting power. He was a nightmare for defenders to deal with. He was knocking in goals for fun at senior level before his 17th birthday at his local club Hörnefors. The third level club was only the first step towards stardom for him. Top division football was the natural career move and it came in 1940 with Degerfors where the goals continued to go in with remarkable frequency. In 1942, Nordahl made his debut for Sweden against Denmark and scored in the 3-0 win in Copenhagen.

    The following year he won his first of four topscorer titles in Allsvenskan (Sweden’s Premier League) and consolidated his place in the national team. He was to be first choice there until the end of the decade. In 1944 he signed for top club IFK Norrköping and went on to win the Swedish championship in every of the four full seasons he completed there – there was even a league and cup double the first year. That year also saw him score seven goals in a row in one match against Landskrona. That has never been done before or after in Swedish top league football.

    Nordahl was to experience one of the highlights of his career with two of his brothers in the London Olympics 1948 when Sweden triumphed having beaten Austria (3-0), Korea (12-0), Denmark (4-2) and Yugoslavia in the final 3-1. Nordahl’s goal in the Final was spectacular. He received the ball in the centre-circle, shook off two opponents, played a neat one-two, got the ball back and blasted it into the top corner from about 20 yards. It was his seventh in the tournament which made him top scorer. (His goal comes one minute into this videofile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH9G6rfdOmc )

    After the Olympics with a gold medal bagged, at the age of 27, Gunnar Nordahl felt he had achieved just about anything he could achieve as a player. There were certainly no more goals to fulfil in Sweden, so he thought about retiring and go back to work full time as a fire fighter. Instead there was an amazing turn-around of incidents. Gunnar Nordahl signed for AC Milan and was soon followed by two countrymen – Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm. Together they formed a formidable Swedish trio at Rossoneri known as Gre-No-Li.

    Nordahl scored an amazing 35 goals in his first full season in Serie A - a record which still stands to this day. He scored another 34 the following year and by the time he had completed eight seasons at San Siro he had won two Serie A titles and knocked in 210 league goals which remains a club record, and his five topscorer titles in Serie A is a league record. His final season with Milan was the inaugural season of the European Cups. Milan reached the semifinals in the Champions Cup, but lost 5-4 on aggregate to eventual champions Real Madrid. More luck instead in the somewhat less prestigious Latin Cup where Milan triumphed in 1951 (Nordahl scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 win vs Lille in the final) and 1956 when Nordahl did not play in the final due to his departure to Roma.

    Nordahl ended his Italian adventure with two quiet seasons in the eternal city before heading home to his wife’s hometown Karlstad in the lower leagues for a player-coach position. After 225 goals in 291 Serie A appearances, Nordahl is second only to Silvio Piola on the all-time topscorer’s list. The Italian player made several hundred more appearances though. In 2000, Nordahl was the only team sports athlete on the official top 10 list among Sweden’s best athletes of the last century. Nordahl is reputed to have scored 688 goals in total in his senior career.


    League Statistics per Season

    Season - Club - Games – Goals [ Caps / Goals ]
    1937/38 Hörnefors (III).............14 / 20
    1938/39 Hörnefors (III).............14 / 25
    1939/40 Hörnefors (III).............13 / 23
    1940/41 Degerfors...................17 / 15
    1941/42 Degerfors...................21 / 13 [ 1 / 1 ]
    1942/43 Degerfors...................20 / 14 [ 5 / 2 ]
    1943/44 Degerfors...................19 / 14 [ 3 / 4 ]
    1944/45 IFK Norrköping.............22 / 27 [ 2 / 2 ]
    1945/46 IFK Norrköping.............21 / 25 [ 5 / 6 ]
    1946/47 IFK Norrköping.............20 / 17 [ 4 / 8 ]
    1947/48 IFK Norrköping.............22 / 18 [ 6 / 8 ]
    1948/49 IFK Norrköping.............10 / 06 [ 7 /12]
    1948/49 AC Milan.....................15 / 16
    1949/50 AC Milan.....................37 / 35
    1950/51 AC Milan.....................37 / 34
    1951/52 AC Milan.....................38 / 26
    1952/53 AC Milan.....................32 / 26
    1953/54 AC Milan.....................33 / 23
    1954/55 AC Milan.....................33 / 27
    1955/56 AC Milan.....................32 / 23
    1956/57 AS Roma.....................30 / 13
    1957/58 AS Roma.....................04 / 02
    1959-61 Karlstads BIK (II)..........N/A (player/manager)

    European Cup Games

    1955/56 AC Milan.......EC I.........06 / 04
     
  2. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
  3. the fumbler

    the fumbler Member

    Nov 17, 2003
    Denmark
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Excellent job!! The only thing I knew of Gunnar Nordahl before, was that he was swedish and scored a ton of goals in Italy. This was very interesting read!

    Thumbs up :)
     
  4. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    No doubt Gunnar Nordahl was a great player of his time, being Serie A's top-scorer and AC Milan's all-time topscorer, but we also have to remember that until the 70's it was not all that unusual to see forwards scoring just around a goal a game or even more. I could mention Poul "Tist" Nielsen (38 caps, 52 goals for Denmark in the 20's), Pauli Jørgensen (47 caps, 44 goals for Denmark in the 30's) or Ole Madsen who won 50 caps and scored 42 goals in the 60's. I'm sure they were also considered to be great players of their time, but non of them deserve to be named among the very best players to come out of Denmark just because they were scoring lots of goals at that point in time, and I'm quite sure Nordahl is not even among the very best players to come out of Sweden, if you really compare their skills and talent.
    .
     
  5. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
    I wrote arguably the finest player so I didn't exclude other choices. There will always be debates around different time eras. I didn't put too much thought into his national team records, by the way. Like Nordahl, most of the Danish players you listed above scored most of their goals against Nordic opposition. The Nordic teams played against eachother a lot in the old days. What sets Nordahl apart is his huge success in Italy and the fact that he stood out in such a prestigious league.
     
  6. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark

    Well, perhaps "arguably among the finest players ever to come out of sweden" would be a better choice of words then. I really dont think Nordahl should be considered to be in quite the same class as players like Michael Laudrup, Allan Simonsen or Henrik Larsson who was selected by the Swedish FA as the 'most outstanding Swedish player of the past 50 years'.

    http://www.uefa.com/uefa/history/associationweeks/association=127/newsId=256175.html
    .
     
  7. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
    Why not? Because Simonsen played twenty years later? The time gap isn't that big down to Nordahl's prime you know. :)

    The Larsson choice was a scandal. It was a newspaper poll. New names always win those. Everybody can participate. Both those who know their football history and those who don't. Who would vote for a player retired 50 years ago? [edit: I didn't see the UEFA nomination link until after I posted. Since UEFA is founded in 1954, Nordahl just missed out time-wise basically.]

    I think I saw a poll where Eric Cantona was voted best Man Utd-player...
     
  8. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    I dont really think it was a Scandal. Even though I added the link about the 'UEFA golden Player award' , then Henrik Larsson was also selected as the "all-time greatest swedish player" in 2005 by the Swedish FA. Not to forget that Larsson won the 'Golden Boot' in 2000/01 and is one of the all-time greatest goalscorers in the Europa Cups (along with Allan Simonsen) :

    http://www.rsssf.com/players/players-in-ec.html#goals

    As for Simonsen, then he was a very small player known for his brilliant technique, so he was not really a forward like Larsson or Nordahl, but more of a natural attacking midfielder. Besides being one of the all-time greatest goalscorers in the Europa Cups, Simonsen is also the only player in the World who has managed to score in all three European Cup finals (CL/Champions Cup final :1977, UEFA Cup finals 1975 and 1979, Cup Winners Cup final 1982) and the only Scandinavian/Nordic player ever to be selected as European footballer of the year :

    http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/europa-poy77.html
    .
     
  9. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
    Simonsen is an all-time great too, no doubt about it.

    I wrote Nordahl's profile as part of a big project on BigSoccer about legends in the game. I did not intend to start a debate whether he is the best from Scandinavia or not.

    Nordahl is a great legend in the game no matter how you look at it and that was all I wanted to say.
     
  10. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    And btw, I dont agree with this statement... Ther is a huge step between having been a great player among the very few semi- and full-time professionals of the 40's and 50's in compare with the 70's and 80's...

    As you write it yourself, then ther was not only a WW2 to consider, but the European club competitions was just getting started and Nordahl was Sweden’s first ever foreign based professional footballer, clearly showing the lack of professionalism in European soccer in the 40's and 50's..
    .
     
  11. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    We can agree that he was a Scandinavian legend of the 40's and 50's then :)
    .
     
  12. frenil

    frenil Member

    Mar 11, 2004
    Lund
    He was seleced "all-time greatest swedish player" by the swedish public, not the FA.
     
  13. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    Hmmm ?... isnt 'Guldbollen' (swedish player of the year) an official Swedish FA award ?... and did Henke not get the 'Tidernas Guldboll' (all-time greatest Swedish player) award by the Swedish FA in 2005 ??...

    In any case, then it was the Danish FA that in the end chose to select Michael Laudrup as the 'most outstanding Danish player of the past 50 years', so I would think the same goes for Sweden when Henke was selected as the 'most outstanding Swedish player of the past 50 years' ?.
    .
     
  14. frenil

    frenil Member

    Mar 11, 2004
    Lund
  15. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
  16. frenil

    frenil Member

    Mar 11, 2004
    Lund
    Gunnar Nordahl, Gunnar Gren, Agne Simonsson and Torbjörn Nilsson.
     
  17. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Bolzplatz
    Excellent work, Bauser. I have no qualms looking at Nordahl as one of the very greatest Scandinavian players in history. How can one claim Michael Laudrup and Allan Simonsen to be superior when nobody really can judge Nordahl's ability based on tapes as there seem to be none available of him (other than highlights like the youtube one posted which showed a glimpse of what Nordahl could do, proving that he must have been a very skilled player). He played in the professional Serie A, one of the best leagues of Europe at that time, and he was arguably the greatest player there for 4 or 5 years. No small achievement.
     
  18. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    Well, you could also argue the opposite, by saying that you cant really claim him to be one of the all-time greatest when you have not really watched him play, but only have to rely on the many goals he scored in the no doubt more or less amateur days of soccer in the 40's and 50's...

    No disrespect of Nordahl who no doubt is a Scandinavian legend of the 40's and 50's, but you have to admit that it was not the golden age of soccer, perhaps both due to WWII and the sport just starting to turn more professional. A player like Allan Simonsen on the other hand achieved his glory competing with players like Keegan, Platini, Cruyff and other legends in the 70's and 80's in a much more professional environment, for the award as European Footballer of the Year, while Laudrup among other achievements was selected as 'Best foreign player of the past 25 years' in the Spanish league (in 1999)
    .
     
  19. the fumbler

    the fumbler Member

    Nov 17, 2003
    Denmark
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Does it really matter? Seriously - it seem really weird discussing whether Gunnar Nordahl is one of the best players in scandinavia or not - since that will always be very subjective (is that a word in english?), unless you get some common criteria.
     
  20. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    No, I just find it silly when ppl start comparing players from the 30's, 40's or 50's with players from the 70's, 80's or 90's...

    It's impossibel to make any kind of comparison, since ther were hardly any real professional players or teams at that point in time and no Europa cup tournaments. I mean, Gunnar Nordahl was the first ever foreign based professional footballer from Sweden, ther were no professionals in Denmark, Norway or most other European countries, so ther were little "professional" competition going on in Europe at that point in time, making it fairly easy to make your mark if you had a few skills and a professional contract.

    It doesnt change the fact that Nordahl was the first of his kind, being the first foreign based professional footballer from Scandinavia, and no doubt made his mark as a Scandinavian legend of the 40's and 50's.
    .
     
  21. Bauser

    Bauser Member+

    Dec 23, 2000
    Norway
    Club:
    Fredrikstad FK
    Serie A has been a professional league since 1930 so Nordahl played against pros. There were many foreigners from other countries in Serie A at the time too. South American imports to Italy happened already in the 1930s.
     
  22. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    I know, but a few more or less professional leagues does not make the very few professional players of the 30's, 40's or 50's comparable in any way with professional players from the 70's, 80's or 90's.

    Ther is simply too huge a gap in the amount of top players and pressure to perform at a higher level in a much more professional environment. So even if a Star player from the 50's on the surface would seem to have the skills needed, then it's not sure at all that he would be among the few who are able to deal with the much higher pace and pressure of more modern professional soccer. Some of even the biggest names of the 50's would fail such a test for sure, while others would probably do very well dealing with the much higer pace and pressure. It's just impossible to say.
    .
     
  23. deleted

    deleted Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    Club:
    Borussia Dortmund
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    i thought that was schuster
     
  24. Spartak

    Spartak Member

    Nov 6, 1999
    Philly
    Club:
    AC Milan
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm no expert on Scandinavian football. All I can do is give you the opinion of many Milan (and Serie A fans in general) who were alive when Nordahl played. And most consider him the greatest goal scorer to ever play in Serie A. Now you have to think about that statement. We are talking about a league that has witnessed players such as Van Basten, Ronaldo, John Charles, Shevchenko, Rummenigge, Riva, Batistuta, Baggio, Weah, Vieri, etc. That's a huge compliment to a player that you can't ignore.

    And Serie A at the time was one of the best leagues in Europe. Only Spain could make a case that it was better.
     
  25. Ceres

    Ceres Member+

    Jan 18, 2004
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Club:
    AGF Aarhus
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark

    No, it was Laudrup who was selected as 'Best foreign player of the past 25 years' in the Spanish league (in 1999). Have a look at this link at the bottom, a few lines below 'The Post-Gala Party' :

    http://www.hallofchampions.com/gala/index.html
    ---

    .. and in any case, Laudrup is also the first ever foreigner to win 5 straight Spanish championships in a row and to quote Franz Beckenbauer - "The 60's belongs to Pele, the 70's to Johan Cruyff, the 80's to Diego Maradona, the 90's to Michael Laudrup", while Johan Cruyff once said that in his opinion Michael Laudrup was "The most naturally gifted footballer ever" and his team mate in Real Madrid, Raúl said in an interview in 2006 that Laudrup is the best player he has ever played with ...
    .
     

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