Monday, 5 November 2007

Milan and Sweden mourn Liedholm

Former Sweden and AC Milan forward Nils Liedholm has died aged 85 after a long illness.

A Milan statement read: "Milan mourn the death of Nils Liedholm, the club's coach during their tenth Scudetto-winning campaign and an irreplaceable member of the legendary 'Gre-No-Li' attacking triumvirate. With him, we lose a huge chunk of our history, yet his memory will stay alive in the hearts of Milan fans and of all football lovers."

Born in Valdemarsvik on 8 October 1922, Liedholm began his playing career with IK Sleipner before moving to IFK Norrkoping in 1946. In three seasons with Norrkoping he helped the team to two championships, and the tall and clever inside forward was part of the Sweden side that won Olympic gold in 1948. A year after that triumph he was transferred to Milan, where he formed the 'Gre-No-Li' trio with compatriots Gunnar Nordahl and Gunnar Gren.

In 1950/51 they inspired Milan to their first Scudetto in 44 years, the Rossoneri's total of 107 goals being the last time any team have reached a century of strikes in a Serie A season.

Further titles followed in 1954/55, 1956/57 and 1958/59 – and in a decade when Milan announced themselves as a leading club, 'catenaccio' was developed to deal with their attacking prowess. In 1958 'Il Barone', Liedholm, captained Milan and Sweden in their debut finals in the European Cup and the FIFA World Cup, having returned to the national side with the lifting of a ban on professionals representing the country.

Liedholm retired as a player in 1961 after 81 goals in 359 Serie A games. Following spells as a coach with Verona, Varese and Fiorentina, he returned to San Siro to guide Milan to their tenth championship in 1979.

Then, in 1983, he steered Roma to their first domestic crown since 1942 and the next year took them to the European Cup final where they lost on penalties to Liverpool.

He remained in Italy in his later years, opening a family-run vineyard. He died in his adopted town of Cuccaro, in the northern Piedmont region, where his funeral will be held on Thursday morning.

Source: UEFA

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