KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY: The death of Kurt Hamrin, in his long-adopted home city of Florence at 89, means football has lost the last survivor from the historic 1958 World Cup Final in which Brazil beat hosts Sweden in Stockholm to lay hands on the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time.

Hamrin was Sweden’s outside-right, a goal-scoring will o’the wisp who formed half of a double-edged sword along with Lennart ‘Nacka’ Skoglund on the opposite, left wing.

Weeks after the final Hamrin joined Fiorentina to replace homeward-bound Brazilian Julinho to remarkable effect. He would become the club’s all-time top scorer and lead them to success in the fledgling European Cup Winners’ Cup before finding further European success with Milan in the Cup Winners Cup again and Champions Cup.

By then he had long since retired from the Swedish national team for whom he scored 17 goals in 32 appearances between 1953 and 1965. He also played once for his country at ice hockey.

Hamrin stands ninth in the all-time ranking of leading marksmen in Serie A with 190 goals on behalf of Juventus (eight), Padova (20), Fiorentina (150), Milan (nine) and Napoli (three). Only two foreign forwards have scored more: fellow Swede Gunnar Nordahl (225) and Brazilian Jose Altafini (216). He remains the Viola’s leading marksman with 208 goals in all competitions.

Hamrin’s death prompted a swath of tributes. The Swedish federation said: “Swedish football has lost one of its greats. It was not merely the track record, the goals, the passes and the hard work on the right wing that made ‘Kurre’ a legend who was never forgotten. He was a loyal and popular person wherever he played. We remember him with great warmth and gratitude.”

Kurt Roland ‘Kurre’ Hamrin was born in Stockholm on November 19, the fifth son of a house painter. He went to work as a teenager in the print room of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper while making headlines on the football pitch for local AIK. Hamrin made his senior debut in 1953 at 19 and was the league’s top scorer with 22 goals in 1954-55.

Signing-on fee

Sweden’s amateurs were easy prey for high-paying Italy and thus Hamrin joined Juventus in 1956 for a $15,000 signing-on fee. Juve, however, grew frustrated with Hamrin’s early injuries and sold him a year later to unfashionable Padova. Here Hamrin, coached by the tough disciplinarian Nereo Rocco, scored 20 goals in 30 games to lead Padova to a best-ever third place in Serie A.

Sweden’s English manager George Raynor persuaded the SvFF to scrap its ban on foreign-based stars and brought home Hamrin plus veteran inside-forwards Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm for the World Cup hosting.

Hamrin was Sweden’s four-goal top marksman. He scored twice in a group victory over Hungary, one more in a quarter-final victory over Soviet Union followed by a mesmerising solo against defending champions West Germany in the semis. Pele and ‘Little Bird’ Garrincha’s Brazil ultimately proved themselves too good in the final in the Rasunda stadium, a stone’s throw from where Hamrin had been born.

On returning to Italy Hamrin found Padova had cashed in on his goals and new-found fame to sell him to Fiorentina. It was to prove a nine-year partnership made in football heaven for Serie A’s own Uccellino (Little Bird).

Serie A record

Hamrin’s Fiorentina finished Serie A runners-up twice as well as winning the Coppa Italia (1961 and 1966), the Cup Winners’ Cup, the Alpine Cup and the Mitropa Cup. Notably, on February 2, 1964, Hamrin scored five times in a 7-1 away win against Atalanta, a Serie A away-day record.

Hamrin maintained a home in Florence even after he was reunited with Rocco on transferring in 1967 to Milan. He scored twice in victory over Hamburg in the 1968 Cup Winners Cup Final before attaining a club career pinnacle the next year with Milan’s 4-1 victory over Ajax in the Champions Cup Final.

He retired after a brief last hurrah with Napoli and then back home in Sweden with IFK Stockholm.

Hamrin tried coaching in Italy’s lower leagues without ever feeling comfortable and ultimately found the ceramics import/export business more lucrative. His footballing renown never faded. As Fiorentina’s tribute stated: “The whole of Fiorentina joins the family and the entire football world in mourning Kurt Hamrin. Hamrin has been and will always be a true legend for all football supporters and especially for Fiorentina.”

Kurt Roland “Kurre” Hamrin: born November 19, 1934; died February 4, 2024.

################