Gunnar Nordahl

Nils Gunnar Nordahl (pronounced [ˈɡɵ̌nːar ˈnûːɖɑːl]; 19 October 1921 – 15 September 1995)[1] was a Swedish football player. A highly prolific, powerful, and physically strong striker, with an eye for goal, he is best known for his spell at A.C. Milan from 1949 to 1956, in which he won the Scudetto twice, and also the title of pluricapocannoniere, with an unprecedented five top scorer (Capocannonieri) awards, more than any other player in the history of the Italian championship.[2]

Gunnar Nordahl
Nordahl with A.C. Milan in the 1950s
Personal information
Full name Nils Gunnar Nordahl
Date of birth (1921-10-19)19 October 1921
Place of birth Hörnefors, Sweden
Date of death 15 September 1995(1995-09-15) (aged 73)
Place of death Alghero, Italy
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1937–1940 Hörnefors IF 41 (68)
1940–1944 Degerfors IF 77 (56)
1944–1949 IFK Norrköping 95 (93)
1949–1956 Milan 257 (210)
1956–1958 Roma 34 (15)
1959–1960 Karlstad BIK 24 (11)
Total 528 (453)
National team
1942–1948 Sweden 33 (43)
Teams managed
1958–1959 AS Roma (player-manager)
1959–1961 Karlstads BIK
1961–1964 Degerfors IF
1967–1970 IFK Norrköping
1971–1973 IF Saab
1974 IK Sleipner
1975–1976 Östers IF
1977–1978 AIK Fotboll
1979–1980 IFK Norrköping
Men's Football
Representing  Sweden
Olympic Games
1948 London Team Competition
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Nordahl is Milan’s all-time record goalscorer, and he long held the record for most goals for a single club in the history of Italian league, before being surpassed by Francesco Totti in January 2012.[3] He still holds the record for goals per appearance in Italy. Nordahl is considered to be one of the greatest Swedish football players of all-time,[4] and regarded as one of the best strikers in football history.[5][6] In 2017, he was included in FourFourTwo magazine's list of the 100 greatest players of all time, at the 54th position.[7]

He is the father of former footballer Thomas Nordahl.[8][9]

Club career


Nordahl playing for IFK Norrköping in 1948

Nordahl started out at Hörnefors IF in Sweden before moving to first Degerfors IF and then IFK Norrköping. He won four Swedish championships with IFK Norrköping and once scored seven goals in one game. During his time in Swedish clubs, Nordahl scored 149 goals in 172 matches.[10]


Nordahl transferred to A.C. Milan on 22 January 1949. Later, he would team up with his national team strike partners, Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm to form the renowned Gre-No-Li trio. Playing eight seasons with Milan, he is Serie A's multi-top-scorer a record five times (1949–50, 1950–51, 1952–53, 1953–54 and 1954–55).[5][11] Nordahl is also Milan's all-time top-scorer, with 210 league goals.[12]

Nordahl is the third-highest Serie A goalscorer of all time, with 225 goals in 291 matches,[10][11][12][13] only behind Silvio Piola[5] and Francesco Totti.[13] That makes Nordahl the top goalscorer among non-Italian players,[11] and he is also the most efficient goalscorer goals in Serie A ever with 0.77 goals/match.[5][11] He was nicknamed il pompiere (the fireman), because of his former job while he played in Sweden.[4]

From left to right: Juventus' Parola and A.C. Milan's Nordahl prior a friendly match at San Siro in 1950.

After leaving Milan, Nordahl played for Roma for two seasons. Nordahl's record for most goals scored in Serie A (not including Divisione Nazionale, before Serie A was installed) of 35 in 1949–50 in a season was broken by Gonzalo Higuaín in the 2015–16 season who scored 36.[14][15] Nordahl, together with the mentioned Gre-No-Li is today legendary in Milan. When Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko scored his 100 goal in Serie A for Milan, it is said that some old Milanese supporters commented: "Well he can double that number, and then add another 26, then, and just then, he has passed Il Cannoniere."

International career

Nordahl was first called up to the Swedish national team in 1942. In 1948, he helped Sweden to win the Olympic football tournament, becoming the tournament's top scorer on the way. The Swedish team also included his brothers Bertil and Knut Nordahl.[1] Nordahl's transfer to Milan forced him to retire from the national team, as the rules at the time prevented professionals from the Swedish national team, being not called to 1950 FIFA World Cup along his fellows Gren and Liedholm. In his 33 matches in the national team, he scored a total of 43 goals.[5]

Career statistics

Domestic league club statistics

Club Season League
Division Apps Goals
Hörnefors IF 1937–38 Division 3 Nedre Norrländskan 1420
1938–39 Division 3 Nedre Norrländskan 1425
1939–40 Division 3 Nedre Norrländskan 1323
Total 41 68
Degerfors 1940–41 Allsvenskan 1715
1941–42 Allsvenskan 2113
1942–43 Allsvenskan 2014
1943–44 Allsvenskan 1914
Total 77 56
Norrköping 1944–45 Allsvenskan 2227
1945–46 Allsvenskan 2125
1946–47 Allsvenskan 2017
1947–48 Allsvenskan 2218
1948–49 Allsvenskan 106
Total 95 93
Milan 1948–49 Serie A 2516
1949–50 Serie A 3735
1950–51 Serie A 3734
1951–52 Serie A 3826
1952–53 Serie A 3226
1953–54 Serie A 3323
1954–55 Serie A 3327
1955–56 Serie A 3223
Total 257 210
Roma 1956–57 Serie A 3013
1957–58 Serie A 42
Total 34 15
Karlstad BIK 1959 Division 2 Svealand
1960 Division 2 Svealand
Total 24 11
Career totals 528453





IFK Norrköping[5]






  1. Gunnar Nordahl.
  2. Roberto Di Maggio; Igor Kramarsic; Alberto Novello (8 June 2017). "Italy - Serie A Top Scorers". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  3. "Roma's Francesco Totti breaks Gunnar Nordahl's all-time record of 210 league goals with a single Italian club". Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  4. Chiesa, Carlo F. (22 August 1999). "We are the champions - I 150 fuoriclasse che hanno fatto la storia del calcio" [The 150 champions that made football's history]. Calcio 2000 (in Italian). Action Group S.r.l. p. 123.
  5. "Serial-scoring Swede who lit up Milan". Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) - Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  7. Yorkhin, Michael (25 July 2017). "FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER: 60 to 51". FourFourtwo. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  8. Gunnar Nordahl. Swedish Olympic Committee
  9. "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Gunnar Nordahl". Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  10. "The top scorers in European league history". Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) - Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  11. "Top 10 Serie A goalscorers - 2. Gunnar Nordahl - 225 goals". Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  12. "AC Milan All-Time Best XI". Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  13. "From Bernardini to El Shaarawy: 13 players who scored on their debut". Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  14. "Higuain: 'I am so happy!'". Football Italia. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  15. Chris Davie (14 May 2016). "Higuain makes Serie A history by breaking 66-year-old goalscoring record". Retrieved 14 May 2016.