Milan’s players will don black armbands for tonight’s Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk as a tribute to former player and coach Nils Liedholm, who died on Monday, aged 85.
Liedholm, a Swedish national died, in the northern village of Cuccaro Monferrato, said Milan, the team for whom he played from 1949-61. The cause of death was not given.
“Milan weeps for the passing of Nils Liedholm,” the team said in a statement. “With him goes an enormous piece of Milan’s history.”
Milan captain Paolo made a personal tribute to Liedholm.
“For everything that Liedholm taught me, the most valuable thing he ever said was that football is just a game,” said Maldini ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.
“This is a treasure that I will always keep inside of me, and it is the secret of my longevity.
“For me it is a very sad day and I have lost a person who did so much for me.
“His irony made us all better people. I remember the last time we met and I said to him, ‘How are you boss’, and he replied, ‘I have cut down the training on the floor, now I am only doing speed exercises’.
“He was a phenomenon!
“I believe that Ancelotti is the worthy heir of Liedholm. Carlo shows aesthetic flavour and seeks to play beautiful football and take risks. He also has the same irony. In the world of football, humour and irony is a salvation.”
Liedholm made 23 appearances for Sweden and scored 11 goals, helping his country win the gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics. He was a member of the 1958 World Cup team in Sweden that reached the final but lost to Brazil.
Liedholm made 359 appearances for Milan, scoring 81 goals. His team won Italian championships in 1951, 1955, 1957, and 1959.
After retiring, Liedholm moved into coaching where he led 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 coached Fiorentina, Verona, Varese and Monza before retiring in 1997.