09:57:00 Pubblicato da Tiziano C.
The legendary GRE-NO-LI Trio - In Brief

GRE-NO-LI, “we are a trio, vigilant and full of spirit”: that's a famous Japan animated cartoon. Sure, they were a trio, probably quite, maybe not su "full or spirit". Though, one thing is certain: those three Vikings marked their name in the history of A.C. Milan and in the supporters and rivals minds with a Nordic fire.  

In the immediate after-war, the rossoneri were a mid-table team: after almost ten years of Turin granata dominion, only interrupted by the Superga disaster, A.C. Milan was only a mediocre team. They haven’t won a Scudetto from over forty years, forty-four to be precise. Too many years for an ambitious team as the rossoneri were. The Second World War, especially in Europe, had weakened and impoverished the football growth of many countries: they lacked of raw “materials”: the talented footballers. Then president Umberto Trabattoni, thanks to a web of clever and skilful observers, focused his interest on the Scandinavian area. Unlike many Central European nations, countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden did not suffer the aftermaths of the WW2: their youth academy players were healthy, hell-bent, and brave. The Swedish football team won a well-earned Olympic gold medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics, the first great sporting event after the WW2. Besides, some wealthy Italian football teams focused their attention on Scandinavian players due to convenient economic conditions (Swedish players were considered amateurs, therefore their transfer prices and wages were ridiculous.)

The protagonists

Nordahl in azione

The first player to wear the Milan shirt was a 5’9 and 200 pounds big boy, a muscled and wide-jaw colossus with oiled-hair who played as a centre-forward: Gunnar Nordahl. He came to an agreement with A.C. Milan on January 1949, the 26th, and the Swedish Giant made his debut against Pro Patria the day after in front of an impressive amount of jubilant supporters: he scored two beautiful goals and made a great performance. Finally a significant purchase: the supporters and the press were enthusiastic. Actually Gunnar was the living demonstration of how the appearance can be deceptive; on the pitch the big fireman was an amazing centre-forward: he was tough, brave, fought on every ball, he had a powerful and accurate shot and outmuscled every defender, even the toughest ones. On the contrary, outside the field Nordahl was a humble, wistful and shy guy: when he talked to you he didn’t even watch you in the eyes, a very bizarre attitude for such a big man. A few months after his arrival, Nordahl changed the history of A.C. Milan forever: one day he demanded a meeting with his president and the team manager, Toni Busini. In a halting Italian he said: “I got two friends in Sweden who are amazing players: one is Gren (Gunnar), the other one is Liedholm (Nils). Please, just get them!” Said and done.
After contacting his observer in the cold Sweden, A.C. Milan signed up both of them in an instant. That was probably one of the greatest deal ever.
In the 1950/1951 season, the one after Nordalh’s arrival, Milan’s backbone was formed by the three Sweds.

Nils Liedholm
Liedholm and Gren were a remarkable couple of wing halves: the first one, nicknamed “Star of the North”, established himself as a talented and dynamic inside left, whilst Gren, "the Professor", a nickname that earned because of his tactical awareness – other than his high school professor look - , played as a more static inside right . After 44 years A.C. Milan won the tricolour: it was an exciting season. The three players gelled wonderfully on the pitch : Nordahl scored 34 goals, an impressive amount of goals for Serie A. Gunnar Gren was the brain of the team, the offensive playmaker (even though an old article of Corriere dello Sport indicated him – mistakenly - as a right winger):  he manoeuvred the team with accurate and well-timed passes, had an outstanding technique and his positioning skill was truly amazing. He was the classic player who made the most difficult things (as back-heels) with ease. His midfield partner, Liedholm, had great technical and physical skills with a middle distance athlete pace and great versatility on the pitch, in fact, later in his career, he even played as a defensive midfielder and centre-half. Of the three players he was probably the most complete and the one with the best physical condition: he played for the Rossoneri for 12 seasons, and retired from football when he was 38 years old, after tutoring a young boy whose name was Gianni Rivera.

Gunnar Gren
There are many anecdotes about the "Baron", he loved cycling and his favourite dish was fish. Just a couple of things: legend says that his passes were so accurate that Nils got his loudest applause when a made a wrong one. Another one was about his relationship with Gipo Viani, former Milan coach from 1956 to 1965, who asked him to change his role: the Swedish guy, looking at him in the eyes, answered that, as a captain of the team, he was the only one who had authority on the pitch, and no-one else.

The trio splitted up in 1953: the first one leaving was Gren (to Fiorentina), maybe for economical reasons or for some misunderstandings with the coach. Without the team mate, Nordahl and Liedholm soon won another scudetto in 1955. In the following season Nordahl went to A.S. Roma. After a while Liedholm, the only one playing for Milan in the original trio, won scudetto again in 1957 and in 1959.

The Nordahl career with A.C. Milan was perfect: his goals-per-game ratio (over 0,70 per game) has been unmatchable for of years, and so were his numbers: in six seasons he’s been the Serie A top-scorer five times

1949-1950: 35 goals
1950-1951: 34 goals
1952-1953: 26 goals
1953-1954: 23 goals
1954-1955: 27 goals

Liedholm won 4 scudetto with A.C. Milan, making 359 appearances with 81 goals and countless assists.

Gunnar Gren had 133 appearances and 38 goals with A.C. Milan

A.C. Milan winning side 1950-1951

Lorenzo Buffon (37 apps.) / goalkeeper
Arturo Silvestri (38) / Right back
Andrea Bonomi (38) / Left back
Carlo Annovazzi (37) / Right Half
Omero Tognon (38) / Centrosostegno 
Benigno De Grandi (30) / Left  Half
Renzo Burini (35) / Right Wing
Gunnar Gren (36) / Inside right
Gunnar Nordahl (37) / Centre-forward
Nils Liedholm (31) / Inside-left
Mario Renosto (28) / Left Back

The Tactic

1950-1951 A.C. Milan played with the “Metodo” tactic (WW) with some slightly differences in comparison with the classic metodo. The two full-backs, Silvestri and Bonomi, were blocked and their unique task was to mark the opponents. Omero Tognon was the centre-half, even though he was more a defensive one in comparison with the metodo player (who should have had playmaking skills); often Gunnar Gren, who partnered with Liedholm and played as inside left, helped his team-mate Tognon by moving close to him. Burini and Renosto were two offensive wingers, while Nordahl was the centre-forward.

Some goals from Nordahl (1954-1956)

                                                     Interesting video.
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