Saturday, October 3, 2009

Now, Sweden followed the same road until the end of the 1950s, but changed policy after seeing the famous Gre-No-Li line (Gren-Nordahl-Liedholm) going to Italy. There was no way to stop the players – top Italian clubs were offering big money and to play in top championship was more than tempting too. Even for the good of Swedish football it was better the stars to play in Italy, since domestic football provided nothing for keeping the stars stars. But the national team was the loser in the same time – if only amateurs were to play for Sweden, than… mediocrity. It would be much better to have Gre-No-Li – and other foreign based stars – in the squad. So, Sweden stopped using only amateurs – foreign based professionals were called to play for the national team, which in turn was much stronger. In 1970 it was the only country at the World Cup finals to have significant number of foreign based players in the squad. Sweden played at World Cup finals regularly; Denmark finished last in qualification groups, a punching bag almost everybody. And exporting in the same time good players one after another. Yugoslavia maintained the same policy as Denmark – only domestically based players (amateurs) were to be included in the national team. Yet, there were two significant differences: Yugoslavia was able to keep top players at home, no matter what the players wanted, and also had much bigger pool of talent – the ratio could easily be 10 to one in favour of the Yugoslavs even if Sweden and Denmark are combined.
Gunnar Gren, one of the biggest stars in the world during the 1950s and one of the many Swedes supplying European clubs for years. It was because of players like him Sweden changed its strictly amateur policy, and the national team profited from that.