- 30 Jul 1948
- London 1948
Football was increasingly a professional sport, which meant many of the best players from Western Europe and South America were denied places in the Olympic tournament.
Among the teams fancied to do well, though, was Sweden, which included three brothers in their squad. These were Bertil, Gunnar and Knud Nordahl, a mechanic, fireman and policeman, respectively. It wouldn't be long before all three changed their status to professional footballers, but for the moment their focus was on Olympic success.
Of the three, Gunnar was the best player. Indeed, he was the best player in the tournament, and one of the best natural goalscorers seen in European football.
Within ten minutes of Sweden's first match, he had scored twice as Austria succumbed 3-0 to the mighty Swedes.
In the quarter-finals, Sweden found itself up against Korea in an unfortunate mismatch that saw it win 12-0. Gunnar Nordahl scored four of them, and while he didn't score in the 4-2 semi-final win over Denmark, his quick thinking did provide one of the moments of the game.
As his team attacked, Nordahl realised he was offside and so, as the laws allowed, he jumped into the opposition's team goal and so removed himself from the field of play. A moment, later team-mate Henry Carlsson scored with a header, and Nordahl actually caught the ball before it hit the net.
Inevitably, his scoring touch returned in the final as Yugoslavia were beaten 3-1. Sweden were Olympic champions and Nordahl was a world star, a status he emphasised shortly afterwards by scoring all five Swedish goals in a 5-3 win over Norway.
His exploits cost Sweden his services, however. Nordahl was to sign for the Italian team AC Milan, where he proved a huge star, becoming Serie A's top scorer five times. Because Swedish football remained defiantly amateur at the time, Nordahl never played for his country again.