Olympic Football Tournament London 1948
July 26 - August 13

Olympic Football Tournament London 1948

Olympic Football Tournament London 1948

Final Tournament Standing


London, 1948

Due to World War II, there were 12 years between Olympics. In the meantime, the professional game flourished and became stronger. That limited the number of qualified amateurs. As a result, the Eastern European bloc began its dominance, but not before Sweden became champions of these Summer Games. In fact, Sweden was the only non-Soviet bloc country to win a gold medal during the post-war years until France won at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

These games turned out to be a high scoring Olympic football tournament, with an impressive average of 5.66 goals per match (102 in 18 games).

The Swedes, coached by Rudolf Kock, were spectacular, scoring 22 goals in only four games, including a 3-0 win over Austria, a 12-0 rout of Korea (Gunnar Nordahl had four goals, Henry Carlsson had three) and a 3-1 win over Yugoslavia in the final before 60,000 at Wembley. The appropriately named Gunnar Gren got two goals while the other went to Nordahl, who finished with a tournament-high seven goals (tied with Denmark's John Hansen).

It was in Sweden's 4-1 semi-final victory over Denmark that one of the most unusual goals ever was scored by Carlsson. Nordahl found himself caught offside after several quick possession changes. He took himself off the field by running into the back of the Danish goal when seconds later-Carlsson scored with a header

The Swedish team was far from a fluke. Three players -- Nils Liedholm, Gren and Nordahl -- went on to fame and fortune with AC Milan with Nordahl scoring 210 goals for the First Division club (he scored a further 15 with AS Roma). In 1958, Gren, who was then 38, and Liedholm, 36, performed for their country once more in the 1958 World Cup. The host Swedes reached the final match, losing to Brazil and a 17-year-old named Pele.

In a high-scoring bronze-medal match, in which Denmark led at halftime, 3-2, the Danes prevailed over Great Britain, directed by Manchester United manager Matt Busby, 5-3. John Hansen and Carl Praest tallied two goals each for the winners.