Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 18 News List

AC Milan's Swedish soccer legend Nils Liedholm dies at 85

AP , MILAN, ITALY

AC Milan players Gunnar Nordahl, Nils Liedholm and Gunnar Gren, from left, pose together in an undated photo taken in Milan, Italy.

PHOTO: AP

Nils Liedholm, a former Sweden and AC Milan midfielder who later became a title-winning soccer coach in Italy, died on Monday. He was 85.

Liedholm died in the village of Cuccaro Monferrato, in the northern Italian province of Alessandria, AC Milan said in a statement. The cause of death was not given.

Liedholm formed a celebrated attacking trio with Gunnar Gren and Gunnar Nordahl for Sweden and Milan in the 1950s -- known as the "Gre-No-Li."

He made 23 international appearances for Sweden -- scoring 11 goals -- and helped lead Sweden to the gold medal in the 1948 Olympics in London. He was also on the 1958 World Cup team in Sweden that reached the final, but lost to Brazil.

Liedholm came to Italy in 1949 to play for Milan and stayed there for the rest of his life. He made 359 appearances for the Rossoneri between 1949 and 1961 -- scoring 81 goals -- and won Italian championships in 1951, 1955, 1957, and 1959.

After retiring, Liedholm moved into coaching -- picking up the nickname "Il Barone" or "The Baron."

He guided AS Roma for 12 seasons and Milan for eight, winning five trophies, including two league titles -- in 1979 with Milan and in 1983 with Roma.

He also coached Fiorentina, Verona, Varese and Monza, before retiring in 1997.

"Milan weeps for the passing of Nils Liedholm," Milan said. "With him goes an enormous piece of Milan's history. But his memory will remain permanently in the heart of all Milan supporters and fans of soccer."

A funeral will take place in Cuccaro Monferrato tomorrow, the ANSA news agency reported.

Milan players were to wear black armbands during their match at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League yesterday. Club officials were also hoping to organize a minute's silence before kickoff, Milan said.

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