|Date of birth||8 October 1922|
|Place of birth||Valdemarsvik, Sweden|
|Date of death||5 November 2007(aged 85)|
|Place of death||Cuccaro Monferrato, Italy|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking Midfielder|
|1961–1963||AC Milan (assistant coach)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Nils Liedholm (8 October 1922 – 5 November 2007) was a Swedish football midfielder and coach. Il Barone (The Baron), as he is affectionately known in Italy, was renowned for being part of the Swedish "Gre-No-Li" trio of strikers along with Gunnar Gren and Gunnar Nordahl at A.C. Milan and the Swedish national team, with which he achieved notable success throughout his career. Liedholm was an offensive playmaker who was renowned for his excellent passing ability throughout his career, as well as his vision, control, class, and his elegant style of play; he is regarded as one of Milan's greatest ever players. As a coach, he was in charge of several teams in Italy, managing for nearly four decades; he is regarded as one of the most successful managers in Italian football history. At the end of the 20th century Liedholm was voted the best Swedish player of the millennium by the readers of Sweden's largest newspaper, Aftonbladet.
Club playing career
Liedholm joined his first club, Valdemarsviks IF, in 1938. In 1942 he joined IK Sleipner and in 1946 moved to IFK Norrköping, a bigger Swedish club with whom he won two Swedish league titles. During his time with Norrköping, he also earned 18 caps for the Swedish national team, winning the gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics. This eventually gave him the chance to join Milan in 1949. He made his Serie A debut on 11 September 1949 in a 3–1 win against Sampdoria. In his first season with Milan, the midfielder played 37 games and scored 18 goals. In 1951, Liedholm won the first of his four scudetto titles. Another three titles followed in 1955, 1957 and 1959. A player with a club that was having the best spell of its life up to that point, Liedholm also won the Latin Cup in 1951 and 1956 and was Captain of Milan in the 1958 European Cup Final against Real Madrid, losing 2–3 (after extra time). It is said that Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano who, felt despite victory knew it was a match Milan could have won. Asking Liedholm to exchange shirts, Liedholm said to him "Keep it. That won't matter. The only thing that will be remembered from this match down the years is that Real Madrid won".
Famous for his passing abilities and tactical awareness, Liedholm was the creator of many of Gunnar Nordahl's goals. Nordahl is the third best scorer in the Serie A with 225 goals in 257 games, behind leading scorer Silvio Piola who has scored 274 goals and Francesco Totti. According to legend, it took two years playing for Milan until Liedholm misplaced his first pass at the San Siro, the rarity prompting a five-minute ovation from the home crowd.
Liedholm was also one of the first players to realise the importance of fitness to a good performance. Consequently, he put in many more hours of training than other players, saying himself that he did the 100 metres, 3000 metres, javelin, shot put and high jump twice a week. His club career would continue until he was almost 40.
National team playing career
Having helped Sweden win the gold medal in the 1948 Olympic tournament, Liedholm was the captain of the national squad at the 1958 World Cup, celebrated in his home country. Aged almost 36, he helped Sweden to reach the World Cup final, where the team lost out to a Brazil side that included Didi and 17-year-old Pelé. Liedholm scored the opening goal of the final, which makes him the oldest player to score in a World Cup Final; however, Brazil came back and won the match 5–2.
After he retired from playing, Liedholm enjoyed some time in the backrooms at Milan, before getting promotion for both Verona and then Varese. This brought him to the attention of Fiorentina and then Milan, where he finally took control of the first team. He guided them to their tenth league title in 1979 before moving on to become the manager of Roma. Leading talents such as Paulo Roberto Falcão and Bruno Conti, he took them to their second league title ever in 1983 using the zonal marking system, which was unusual in Italy at the time. A year later, his Roma side lost on penalties to Liverpool in the European Cup Final. He also won the Coppa Italia three times with Roma, in 1980, 1981 and 1984.
As well as saying that the modern game is much more frantic and fast-paced than when he was involved, Liedholm, always a professional, also observed that "they [players] do not do much to avoid fouling players... It is too easy to stop a player by fouling him. Proper training teaches you how to win the ball without committing a foul, which is much more difficult.
After leaving the game (but still living in Italy), Liedholm ran a vineyard for a while together with his son Carlo. He died on 5 November 2007 in his home in Cuccaro Monferrato, Province of Alessandria.
Statistics for Milan
*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League
*Other competitions include the Latin Cup & Amicizia Cup
|Olympic medal record|
|Competitor for Sweden|
|1948 London||Team Competition|
- IFK Norrköping
- Serie A: 1950–51, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1958–59
- Latin Cup: 1950–51, 1955–56
- UEFA Champions League runner-up: 1957–58
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
- Seminatore d'Oro: 1974–75, 1983
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
- "Addio al Barone Liedholm" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Nils Niedholm". Retrieved 9 December 2014.
- Glanville, Brian (6 November 2007). "Nils Liedholm". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Greatest players". gopeking.net (unofficial IFK Norrköping fansite). Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- "Golden Great: Nils Liedholm". Football Italia. June 2001. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- Obituary in The Times, 7 November 2007
- Greatest Swedish Players
- Golden Great: Nils Liedholm
- Liedholm's Career at RSSSF.com
- Liedholm Winery Official Website
- Champion, gentleman, friend