The Swedish footballer Kurt Hamrin, who has died aged 89, was a star of the 1958 World Cup when Sweden reached the final and was a major hit in the Italian league during the 1950s and 60s with Fiorentina and Milan, with whom he won major European honours.
The 1958 finals, played in Sweden, showed Hamrin at his dynamic best on the right wing. With a low centre of gravity, superb close control and great pace, he was a key figure in his country’s passage to the final. Sweden’s Yorkshire-born manager, George Raynor, characterised his players as “the slowest in the competition” but this could scarcely have applied to the fleet-footed Hamrin.
The goal for which he will be best remembered came in the semi-final against West Germany in Gothenburg. All through the game Hamrin had been tormenting the German left-back, Erich Juskowiak, with his skills and speed. Eventually an exasperated Juskowiak hacked him down, and was sent off for his pains.
Shortly afterwards, stockings around his ankles as always, Hamrin picked a ball up near the right-hand touchline, seemed to be feigning somnolence, then suddenly and electrically sprang to life, dribbling past three men at top speed before shooting home past the goalkeeper from an acute angle. The goal put Sweden 3–1 up, and secured a place in the final against Brazil, which was lost 5-2.
In all Hamrin played 32 times for Sweden between 1953 and 1965, scoring 17 goals and forming a formidable partnership with another small winger, Nacka Skoglund. Though usually stationed out wide, Hamrin was never averse to wandering into the middle, where he could make use of his great prowess in the air, despite being only 5ft 7in.
Hamrin, often known as Kurre, was born in Stockholm and made his name with the local AIK club. After three years there, scoring 54 goals in 62 league matches, in 1956 he was transferred to Juventus of Turin, where he was slow to settle. In 1957, two distinguished foreign attackers, Omar Sivori of Argentina and the Welsh international centre-forward John Charles, arrived – which meant Juventus had to get rid of Hamrin or overshoot their quota of foreigners.
He was lent to the much less fashionable Padova club, and, after his exploits in the World Cup finals, was transferred to Fiorentina of Florence, where he was able to fully deploy his talents.
He scored 26 Serie A goals in his first season there, and another 26 in the second, eventually reaching a tally of 203 goals for the club, a Fiorentina record that he holds jointly with the Argentinian centre-forward Gabriel Batistuta.
Hamrin’s nine years with Fiorentina were the core of his fine career, and while he was there he won two Italian Cups (1961 and 1966) and a European Cup Winners’ Cup (1961). But in 1967 Milan bought him and he bagged more honours.
In Rotterdam, in 1968, he got both Milan’s goals when they won the European Cup Winners’ Cup against Hamburg in Rotterdam, and a year later, having pocketed a Serie A champions medal, he was again on Milan’s right wing when Ajax, the Dutch champions, were beaten 4-1 in the 1969 European Cup final. By then in his mid-30s, Hamrin moved to Napoli (1969-71) for a final Italian fling before a last season back in Sweden with IFK Stockholm, after which he retired from the game.
Off the field Hamrin was a taciturn fellow. I remember sitting next to him on the Fiorentina team coach en route to a match against Bologna. When he did speak it was to say “That’s beautiful.” I looked out of the window. “You mean the countryside?” I asked. “No,” he said. “The autostrada.”
After his retirement as a footballer Hamrin moved back to Florence and continued to live there, working as a scout for Milan from 1998 until 2008.
With his wife Marianne, whom he married in 1955, he had five children, Susanna, Carlotta, Piero, Riccardo and Erika.
• Kurt Hamrin, footballer, born 19 November 1934; died 4 February 20242024-02-12T13:11:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd