Gunnar Gren

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Gunnar Gren
Gunnar Gren 1958.jpg
Gunnar Gren during the FIFA World Cup in Sweden in June 1958
Personal information
Full name Johan Gunnar Gren
Date of birth 31 October 1920
Place of birth Gothenburg, Sweden
Date of death 10 November 1991(1991-11-10) (aged 71)
Place of death Gothenburg, Sweden
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Position(s) Forward, Attacking midfielder
Youth career
Silverkällans IK
BK Strix
Lindholmens BK
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1937–1940 Gårda BK 54 (16)
1941–1949 IFK Göteborg 168 (79)
1949–1953 A.C. Milan 133 (38)
1953–1955 AC Fiorentina 55 (5)
1955–1956 Genoa CFC 29 (2)
1956–1957 Örgryte IS 4 (0)
1963–1964 GAIS 22 (2)
1976 IK Oddevold 1 (0)
Total 466 (142)
National team
1939–1956 Sweden B 2 (0)
1940–1958 Sweden 57 (32)
Teams managed
1952 A.C. Milan
1956–1959 Örgryte IS
1960 IFK Göteborg
1963–1964 GAIS
1965–1966 IFK Värnamo
1967 Redbergslids IK
1968–1969 GAIS
1970 Skogens IF
1973 Fässbergs IF
1976 IK Oddevold
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Johan Gunnar Gren (pronounced [ˈɡɵ̌nːar ˈɡreːn]; 31 October 1920 – 10 November 1991)[1] was a Swedish professional football player and coach. He is best remembered for playing for IFK Göteborg and A.C. Milan.

A creative forward, known for his technical skill, vision, tactical intelligence, and passing ability as a playmaker, he was part of the famous "Gre-No-Li" trio of forwards at Milan and the Sweden national team. He was also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, as an offensive–minded central midfielder, known as the mezzala role in Italian football jargon, or even as a striker.[2][3]

A full international between 1940 and 1958, he won 57 caps and scored 32 goals for the Sweden national team. He was a part of the Sweden team that won gold at the 1948 Summer Olympics, as well as the team that finished second at the 1958 FIFA World Cup. In 1946, he was awarded Guldbollen as Sweden's best footballer of the year. Gren is considered to be one of Sweden's greatest and most prolific football players; a statue has been erected in his honor outside Gamla Ullevi stadium.

Early years[edit]

Gren was born on 31 October 1920 to parents Johan Olsson and Gerda Maria Olsson. Gren, a son of a carpenter, grew up in Majorna, Gothenburg.[4] From a young age, Gren excelled in football. On 7 October 1934, Gothenburg Football Association President Carl 'Ceve' Linde held a juggling contest. He won his first sporting prize – a bronze plaque. Göteborgs Sport Bladet wrote about 13-year-old Gren's skills and how he outshone some of the big boys in the national league. The then, 13-year-old Gren played for Bollklubben Strix.[4] During his youth, he played for Lindholmens BK and GAIK before playing Gårda BK.

Club career[edit]

Gårda BK[edit]

In 1937 he started playing for Gårda BK. He made his Allsvenskan debut on 1 May 1938 against Malmö FF which resulted in a scoreless draw. During his time there, he played a total of 54 matches scoring 16 goals.[5]

IFK Göteborg[edit]

In 1941, he was recruited by IFK Gothenburg. During his time in the club, Gren won one national championships in the 1941/42 season and was top scorer in 1947. He won the first ever Guldbollen in 1946.[6] His first league match for IFK was in August 1941, IFK played against Gårda BK winning 6–1 with Gren scoring the first goal.[7] His last league game for IFK was on 6 June 1949 versus IFK Norrköping at Gamla Ullevi in which Gothenburg lost 0–1.[8] He had played 164 matches for IFK and scored 78 goals.

AC Milan[edit]

On 11 September 1949, he debuted for A.C. Milan against Sampdoria, with Milan winning 1–3. During his time with Milan, he became the 'Gre' part of the famous Gre-No-Li trio with his Swedish teammates Gunnar Nordahl ('No') and Nils Liedholm ('Li').[9] He also earned the nickname the "Il Professore" which is Italian for "the professor".[10] While at A.C. Milan, he won the league title for the 1950/51 season. He made 133 appearances in Serie A and scored 38 goals.[11] Gren also managed AC Milan in 1952 before moving to AC Fiorentina.

AC Fiorentina / Genoa CFC / Örgryte IS[edit]

In 1953, Gren moved to AC Fiorentina where he made 55 appearances and scored 5 goals. Then in 1955, Gren moved to Genoa CFC where he made 29 appearances and 2 goals.[11] Tired of Italy, Gren decided to move back to Sweden. In 1956, Gren returned to Gothenburg where he joined Örgryte IS as both player and manager. Gren left in 1959 and played for GAIS in 1963.[12]

International career[edit]

Gre-No-Li playing for A.C. Milan, 1950

Gren made his debut for Sweden on 29 August 1940 in the team's 3–2 win over Finland. During the next decade he played 40 matches for the national team, ending in 1949 with 3–1 against Ireland in a World Cup qualifier and 2–2 in a friendly against Hungary. During this era Gren was part of the team that won the gold medal in the 1948 Olympics in London, scoring twice against Yugoslavia in the final on Wembley.[1]

As a professional, Gren was suspended from the Swedish national team. However, as the World Cup of 1958 was to be played on home soil and the Swedish team seemed too weak for the competition, the Swedish Football Association changed this rule, and Gren, having now ended his professional career and playing in the Swedish Division 2, was again eligible. Gren went on to be the oldest player of this World Cup, 37 years old, and played an important role in the silver medal-winning Swedish team. He played five matches during the World Cup and scored one goal, 2–1 against West Germany in the semi-final. He was also named on the 1958 World Cup All-Star Team.

Gren's last cap came on 26 October 1958 against Denmark in a 4–4 draw. At the time, he was 37 years, 360 days old. In all, Gren made 57 appearances for the national team, scoring 32 goals.


Whilst at A.C. Milan, Gren managed the team in 1952. Also, Gren managed both Örgryte IS and GAIS as player manager. After retiring as a player, Gren managed several teams. Gren became the technical director for Juventus for a brief period in 1961. Gren then managed for GAIS,[13] IFK Värnamo, Redbergslids IK, Skogens IF, IK Oddevold and Fässbergs IF.


Gren retired from football in the 1970s. He died ten days after his 71st birthday and is buried in Västra Kyrkogården (Western Cemetery), Gothenburg, Västra Götaland, Sweden.

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League
Division Apps Goals
Gårda BK 1936–37 Allsvenskan 1 0
1937–38 Allsvenskan 22 4
1938–39 Allsvenskan 22 8
1939–40 Allsvenskan 9 4
Total 54 16
IFK Göteborg 1940–41 Allsvenskan 26 10
1941–42 Allsvenskan 22 9
1942–43 Allsvenskan 21 11
1943–44 Allsvenskan 16 8
1944–45 Allsvenskan 19 14
1945–46 Allsvenskan 20 18
1946–47 Allsvenskan 22 8
1947–48 Allsvenskan 21 1
Total 168 79
Milan 1949–50 Serie A 37 18
1950–51 Serie A 36 9
1951–52 Serie A 31 7
1952–53 Serie A 29 4
Total 133 38
Fiorentina 1953–54 Serie A 33 2
1954–55 Serie A 23 2
Total 56 4
Genoa 1955–56 Serie A 32 23
Örgryte 1956–57 Division 2 Västra Götaland
1957–58 Division 2 Västra Götaland
1959 Allsvenskan
Total 4 0
GAIS 1963 Division 2 Västra Götaland 20 2
1964 Allsvenskan 2 0
Oddevold[14] 1976 Division 4 Bohuslän-Dal 1 0
Career totals 466 142

*Stats do not include 4/0 Latin Cup (for Milan)


Statue of Gunnar Gren outside of (the now demolished and rebuilt) Gamla Ullevi stadium.
IFK Göteborg
A.C. Milan[2]



  1. ^ a b c Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Gunnar Gren". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Gunnar Gren". A.C. Milan. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  3. ^ Mura, Gianni (7 March 1997). "EFFETTO SIMONI 'SONO DI MODA MA NON VECCHIO'". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Aftonbladet sport: Guldbollen".
  5. ^ Gunnar Gren.
  6. ^ Guldbollen.
  7. ^ "Sunday 20th of July 1941: Gårda BK - IFK Göteborg 1-6 (1-3) |".
  8. ^ "Monday 6th of June 1949: IFK Göteborg - IFK Norrköping 0-1 (0-0) |".
  9. ^ "Homepage – AC Milan".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Gunnar Gren. IMDb
  11. ^ a b Gunnar Gren.
  12. ^ "GAIS – Spelarinformation för Gunnar Gren". GAIS. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Välkommen till GAIS". Archived from the original on 1 March 2009.
  14. ^ Oddevolds spelare 1951–2007.

External links[edit]