AC Milan Legends: Gunnar Nordahl
Il Cannoniere was the greatest foreigner that played for AC Milan, in which he was the benchmark of the international players that came and went in the Italian game.
A native of Hörnefors, Sweden where he was born in 1921, Nordahl began his career on his hometown club in 1937, back when the game remained amateur (professional football in Sweden began in 1967, seven years after he retired) and they were on the third tier.
He then moved to Degerfors and then Norrköping that kickstarted his top-flight stint, having won the Allsvenskan title with the latter four times, half of which were shared by Nils Liedholm. He was tearing up the nets in the Swedish game, during which he was the scoring champion four times as well.
After he won the Olympic Gold with Sweden in 1948, he effectively ended his international career (43 goals in 33 caps) when he moved to the San Siro a year later alongside Liedholm and Gunnar Gren, forming the feared yet respected Gre-No-Li trio that became known all throughout Italy with Nordahl winning the first of his record five Capocannoniere, awarded as the Serie A’s top scorer.
In 1951, he then took a second scoring title as he won his first of his two Scudetti, which was the only time that they take the league as a triumvirate. When en Gren moved to Fiorentina in 1953, the duo Nordahl and Liedholm took another scudetto two years later.
Nordahl then moved to Roma in 1956, and wrapped up his career in the then second-tier side Karlstad, hanging up his boots in 1960.
Overall, with Milan, he was the club’s leading goal scorer with 221 goals overall, 210 of them came in the league. His 35 goals in the 1949-50 Serie A season were the biggest in 66 years until it was surpassed by Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. His five scoring titles were an Italian football record, which his three-peat was made before by former Milan striker er Aldo Boffi and was followed by Caligiari’s Gigi Riva and Juventus’ Platini.
Nordahl passed away in 1995 at the age of 73 in the Sardinian city of Alghero. But his legacy will endure, as his name was on the northern curva of Norrköping’s Nya Parken ground which was home to the club’s most passionate supporters.