Gunnar Nordahl is number 40 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series.


To the uninitiated, there are a few things to know about Nils Gunnar Nordahl, the famous Sweden and Milan striker who made his name during the 1950s.


Firstly, the man loved a goal. Like Lionel Messi, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski, names we're obviously all familiar with, his game plan was totally based around finding the back of the net. And whatever club he joined, be it IFK Norrköping, Milan or Roma, goals were scored.

Secondly, he held the distinguished title of pluricapocannoniere in Serie A, labelled being the only player in the history of Italy's top flight to win the Capocannonieri awards.


For context, that's two more than each of Giuseppe Meazza, Aldo Boffi, Gigi Riva, Paolo Pulici, Roberto Pruzzo, Michel Platini and Giuseppe Signori. It's also three more than some pecker named Zlatan Ibrahimovic.


Nordahl was Serie A's leading striker for the first half of the 1950s, top scoring in five of six seasons starting with 1949/50, hitting 30 or more in three of them. In pure goalscoring terms, not many could keep up with the Swede. The history books tell us only two players were more successful in striking in Serie A: Silvio Piola and Francesco Totti.


He also wasn't bad on the international stage either, scoring 43 goals in 33 appearances for Sweden, though his move to Milan did effectively end his career with the national team, being left out of the squad for the 1950 World Cup.

But let's get to know the lad a bit first, eh?


Nordahl started out at hometown club Hörnefors IF, playing three years in the north of Sweden and netting at a rate of more than a goal a game before heading down south to play for Degerfors IF. His stats with the latter weren't quite as impressive, managing 56 in 77 games, but that's hardly a record to be sniffed at.


He stayed at Degerfors for four years before leaving for Norrköping, where he would ultimately catch the attention of Serie A giants Milan. He would get a job as a fireman - incidentally, he would later be nicknamed 'Il Pompiere


Not only did he rattle in 93 goals for Kamraterna, but he also win gold with Sweden during the Olympic Games in London in 1948. Just a few months later in January 1949 he would join I Rossoneri, teaming up with compatriots Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm - both of whom ​he is said to have convinced to make transfers to the Italian giants - as part of the feared 'Gre-No-Li' trio.


What one must remember is how different a time the 1950s was in football terms to what we watch now. There were strings at the top of shirts instead of skin-tight numbers designed to suck on the belly. Goalkeepers had no gloves to protect their fingers from those heavy leather balls.

And that latter point would definitely be a scary one nowadays if a shot stopper had to face Nordahl. 28 years old when he joined Milan, standing at 6'1 and built like a brick s***house - from what the grainy black pictures suggest, anyway - the striker packed a punch with his shots, and you certainly wouldn't want to hang around waiting for one to hit you.


One of his greatest ​Milan performances came during the 1949/50 season, when Juventus and Milan - the two teams vying for the Serie A title - came face to face in Turin.


​Juve's one hotshot Scandinavian John Hansen put the hosts ahead, but all that seemed to do was anger Gre-No-Li, each of whom would score in the next 14 minutes - Nordahl getting two before completing his hat trick in the second half.


Milan would eventually win 7-1 (7-1), yet would still finish five points behind Juventus in that season's Serie A title race. Can you imagine ​Manchester City beating ​Liverpool 7-1 this season and still finishing second? That's how weird that result was.

For all his exploits on the pitch, his legacy outside Italy and Sweden is hard to decipher. Once his goalscoring days with Milan were over, Nordahl would join Roma for two more seasons and eventually retire in 1958, with two Serie A titles in the bank.


​In goalscoring terms, there were few who could match his exploits. He was, in many ways, a classic poacher, finding himself in the right positions time and time again to provide the finishing touch for Milan, who boasted incredible other stars like Lorenzo Buffon, Cesare Maldini and Carlo Annovazzi behind the stacked forward line.


For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!


90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here


Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin