Ten Past Ten and Ten Pastis
Gunnar Andersson's journey from Marseille legend to homeless alcoholic
Paris may historically have disdained the sport but football has always been the passion of the Marsellaises. And some of their heroes have become myths larger than life or just remained enigmatic. Myths, yes, but still unexplained and not fully understood. Gunnar Andersson's story has been told many times but he probably remains the greatest enigma of all. His life deserves to be explained, detailing his early years in Sweden as well as his later years in France. In between comes his football career, those eight seasons for Olympique Marseille in the 1950s that made some supporters believe that the club motto Droit Au But (Straight to the Goal) was invented for him. He scored 169 league goals for the club, a figure that leaves him still OM's leading all-time goalscorer, ahead of the Croat Josip Skoblar with 151 and Jean-Pierre Papin on 134.
Andersson was born in 1928 in Arvika, a small town on the railway line between Stockholm and Oslo. The family relocated in the area a few times, first to Säffle and then to Åmål. On his first day at school in Åmål the teacher noted several Gunnars in the class, so he called Andersson "Säffle-Gunnar". The nickname stuck.
While at school he proved to be a more than useful football player. It was probably because of him that IFK Åmål, one of the local clubs, decided to start their first team for boys. Youth teams, for players in their late teens, were common in Sweden at the time. The final places in those teams were sometimes taken by players as young as twelve or thirteen, resulting in incongruous team photos with a mixture of young men and boys. IFK Åmål decided it was time to give those of sixteen and younger their own team, and in doing so they would secure this young gem of a player.
The IFK Åmål Under-16 team went undefeated in the district league during 1943-44 and were rewarded with a summer tour to faraway places like Örebro, Motala and Stockholm. They won all three games, scoring a total of 17 goals. The last game, in Stockholm against Reymersholms IK, was won 7–0, with you-know-who getting all seven goals. That feat earned him his first mention in a national newspaper. In total he scored 14 during the tour.
That was his farewell to his pals in the boys team. Promoted to the youths, he became their star as well. You must bear in mind that this was, and still is, a remote part of the country. Sport was not very developed in the county of Dalsland and most of the teams in the local youth league were also-rans. At one point the IFK Åmål youths could only gather nine players for an away game. Gunnar agreed to play in goal for the first half and kept a clean sheet. After the interval he reverted to his usual striking position, got three goals and helped his team win the game 3–1.
But even if you play your game in the wilds, ability like his was too good to go unnoticed. And when he was promoted to the first team, which played in a regional section of the third division, he just went on. Information from the local newspapers is sketchy but from his debut late in 1944 to the 1947-48 season he averaged about a goal a game.
The big-timers IFK Gothenburg talked him into a transfer during the winter of 1948. They even had him down for a trial appearance in a friendly game. This was in the amateur days of Swedish football; contracts were non-existent and all you had to do was to sign a player was to persuade him to be non-active for 90 days. After that 'quarantine' he was free to choose a new club. The snag was that the winter months, December to March, only counted for 15 days. So any player who decided to change clubs was bound to sit out almost half a league season. The incentive, if the transfer included a move to a new town, was usually to be set up with a job and an apartment. This was against the rules, which stipulated that the player should apply for a job first, then move and only at that moment tell a club he wanted to join them, but of course it never worked that way. Besides, money routinely changed hands under the table, or via supporters who had no formal connection to the new club.
IFK Gothenburg hoped to play their new striker towards the end of May 1948. But IFK Åmål hadn't done too well in the autumn. Relegation was looming, so they asked Andersson to break his quarantine and play in the second game of the spring season. Gothenburg agreed. But then, two weeks later, Andersson played for Åmål again and this time the IFK Gothenburg secretary got the news through a journalist. Gothenburg really needed a fresh young striker. But this breach of agreement — and obvious proof of weakness on the part of the player, who let himself be talked into playing by his old mates — was too much. They didn't trust him and simply let him go.
But they were not allowed to forget him. Reports of Andersson's superlative form kept arriving through 1948-49. He scored 34 times in 18 league games as IFK Åmål won their regional group. Since Gothenburg had last spoken to him he had become a father. It seemed he was developing from a goal-scoring boy wonder into a grown man. Gothenburg, still in need of a striker, made another approach.
This time he was ready to move. In fact, he was so eager that he went AWOL from his military service at the Coast Artillery at Vaxholm, outside Stockholm. He left a message with his regiment — "My wife is ill" — and never bothered to return. In his first serious game for Gothenburg, a friendly against their neighbours Örgryte – which was also the farewell game for their established international star Gunnar Gren, who had been signed by AC Milan – he stole the show and scored both goals as IFK won 2–1.
Gunnar, his wife Harriet and their daughter Beryl moved into a flat in Gothenburg. Back home he had worked for Swedish Rail and the board members did their best to find him a similar job. But however hard they tried, nothing worked. He turned up, worked for a day or two, and then never bothered to go back (or was told to stay away). That worried the team manager Josef Holsner and his aides. All of the other players combined day jobs with training in the evenings and playing games at weekends. Not Gunnar.
Andersson was in quarantine and could not to play official games until April 1950. What to do? The Gothenburg board simply put Andersson on the same bonuses as his playing teammates. After all he and his family had to eat. So, why not? They also tried to lessen their embarrassment by agreeing to the Danish club KB Copenhagen's request that the idle striker should join them on a trip to Spain in late November.
KB had been invited, together with the Brazilian side Palmeiras, to play in a mini-tournament celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of FC Barcelona. The Danes lost 1-0 to the hosts but defeated the Brazilians by the odd goal in seven, with Andersson getting the first. His performance was noted by one of the honorary guests among the crowd of 52,000 at Les Corts, a banker named Louis-Bernard Dancausse who was chairman of Olympique Marseille.
In the spring of 1950 Gunnar Andersson was looking forward to his league debut. Gothenburg needed him desperately, as they had fallen apart without the genius of Gren and looked an almost certain bet for relegation. Andersson's seventeen goals in eight friendlies excited the fans and his debut, at home to Jönköping in mid-April, drew the biggest gate of the season, almost 22,000. But Gothenburg lost 3-1 and they also lost the next game, away to Degerfors, by the same score.
Two games, no goals and then all hell broke loose. The football federation had got wind of the bonuses paid to Andersson during his quarantine and hit mercilessly. The blow was severe — a one year ban for breach of the amateur rules. The chairman and the rest of the board were also suspended. While they were barred from running the club, the team finally collapsed and were relegated as the 11th of 12 teams. And then the Coast Artillery caught up with their missing gunner. Gunnar Andersson had to appear in court. He was sentenced to two months in jail, to be served only if he declined to do the pending part of his military service. He wasn't able to play football anyway, so he went back to his regiment.
Meanwhile the Sweden national team went to Brazil for the World Cup. Their third-place finish paved the way for another exodus of players. Two years earlier the Olympic gold had resulted in seven players leaving the country. In no time another thirteen were on their way. The stopper Gunnar Johansson, from GAIS of Gothenburg, and Andersson's team mate Dan Ekner, a skilful inside-forward, were quickly signed by Olympique Marseille. But OM were also hunting for a striker. At first Tryggve Granqvist, a sailor who had succeeded the suspended Andersson at IFK, was the target. Negotiations came to nothing, though, and without knowing it the club avoided signing a player who managed just 25 Swedish league games before turning to a life of petty crime.
Both Gunnar Andersson and the board members had appealed against their severe punishments. The highest sports authority in Sweden agreed to investigate. But these were times when the authorities felt threatened by the foreign agents snatching their best players, so nothing much happened for a long time. They didn't give their verdict until November: "A year is clearly too much here. Four months would have been more reasonable!" So, in November Andersson learned that he had been (theoretically at least) free to play since late August.
As soon as the verdict became public, Dancuasse, remembering what he had seen a year earlier, made his move. On November 25, the French paper Sport-Express carried the headline, "Saffle (l'Ouragan) arrives Dec 2." His nickname had been translated, or rather transformed, to "Tornado". Nothing less would do for the readers, and this was only the first of many exaggerations that surrounded his name from then on. (The name Säffle actually translates from Iron Age Swedish to mean 'bay with birds').
Andersson caught the first train to Marseille but was pulled off in Avignon by two reporters who wanted an exclusive. In Marseille he was made welcome by his two fellow countrymen and made his debut on December 9, against the touring Swedish side Helsingborgs IF. The new boy got two goals as OM won 4-2. A Swedish reporter who travelled with Helsingborg analysed Andersson's game: "I have not seen this player before, but it is evident that he is very quick on the turn and shoots rather well with both feet, though mostly with his left." He also stated, matter-of-factly, that, "I saw fourteen Swedes, three Arabs, a Pole and four Frenchmen (of which three had Italian parents) play a game on French soil."
Gunnar Andersson had arrived. He told people an apartment was waiting for him and that Harriet and Beryl were expected to arrive after the holidays. Today his daughter Beryl says, "I was of course too young to know or understand anything at the time. But my mother has told me that she made all the arrangements and got a passport. Still, we never left Sweden. Maybe she thought moving from Åmål to Gothenburg was far enough. She was close to her family and south of France would have been too far away."
Andersson had left Gothenburg in a haze with only football on his mind. He never saw his signing bonus of SEK 60,000. His agent insisted it wasn't his fault. The only arrangement made was with the Swedish Army The club guaranteed time off in the autumn of 1951, so he would be able to finish his military service once and for all. Andersson didn't start too convincingly in the league, but still finished as OM's top scorer with twelve goals. He was a man around whom stories flocked: in that first season he, together with Ekner, helped a young Dane escape from the Foreign Legion, which had recruiting offices in Marseille.
It was the start of the next season, 1951-52, that gave Gunnar Andersson a place in the hearts of the Marsellaises. He scored in the first game, away to Rennes, got another in the second and continued to hit the target for nine consecutive games, totalling thirteen goals. Still, the team struggled. It was typical that his first hat-trick came in a 10-3 defeat to Saint Étienne. The club was left scrapping against relegation. Andersson did what he did best, scoring 31 of their 54 goals. They finished 16th, which meant barrages (a play-off) against Valenciennes, who had finished third in the second division. Andersson had flu, but still played in the first game, the away leg, which was lost 3-1. A week later, though, he was back to his best, scoring two as OM won the home leg 4-0.
OM had the sharpest striker in the league. Andersson was top scorer, six goals ahead of the Dutchman Bertus de Harder of Bordeaux and Marcel Rouvière of Nîmes, but their defence was poor. They changed their goalkeeper every year while the veteran Roger Scotti was shifted back and forth from wing-half to inside-left, either helping the defence or supporting the attack, always needed in both spots.
The team lacked some basic elements, just like the stories — the mythical ones — about Andersson. A local favourite tells how Andersson and a team mate had a bet. Could he drink pastis before a game and still be sharp enough to score? Andersson had 10 shots, scored a hat-trick during the first quarter, and then... well, passed out, probably.
I once met Jean Robin, an early teammate, and asked about Andersson's drinking habits. It is no secret that drink eventually got the better of him. But Robin still surprised me by offering a story without much truth in it. "When he had arrived," he said, "and he sat down for his first team dinner, he asked for milk. But grown men don't drink milk down here. He was offered wine instead. And he liked it."
If true, this would have meant that the club, or his teammates, unwittingly led him on to the path of alcoholism. I retold the story to a veteran sports writer in Gothenburg, who calmly replied, "I think he knew his way to the bottle even before he got to France."
What is not in doubt is that Andersson enjoyed Marseille immensely. This large port, then as now the gateway to France from Africa, was like no other city. Its connections to North Africa were very close. OM's successes in the 1930s and 40s had been truly cosmopolitan. After professionalism was legalised in 1932 and the French league established, there was an influx of foreigners — Germans, English amateurs, Jews from the old Austro-Hungarian empire, a Swiss, a Pole, a Greek, an exiled Catalan (who had escaped Franco) and a stray Brazilian goalkeeper. The club frantically built and rebuilt a team that won the league in 1937 and reached five cup finals between 1934 and 1943, winning three of them.
The team also had its share of pieds-noirs, descendants of the tens of thousands of French who had colonised North Africa during the 19th century. The foremost member of that generation, which had a major impact on French sport in the 1930s, was the middleweight boxer Marcel Cerdan, le bombardier marocain, who was born in Sidi-Bel-Abbès, Algeria, in 1916. He was world champion from 1948 to his death in a plane crash in June 1949. Although married with three children, he had a much publicised affair with the singer Édith Piaf and he was the inspiration behind her song "Hymne á l'amour". Players like Joseph Gonzalès (born in Beni Sal, 1907), Georges Janin (Aïn M'lila, 1912), Mario Zatelli (Sétif, 1912), Manu Aznar (Sidi-Bel-Abbès, 1915) and Jean Bastien (Oran, 1915) formed an ever-present nucleus at OM and were more or less seen as locals.
Marseille was a place in which you could turn up from nowhere and invent or, indeed, reinvent yourself. The Algerian would-be revolutionary leader Ahmed Ben Bella was posted in Marseille after enlisting in the French Army. He also played football and was part of the OM squad during 1939-40. Marseille was a world apart from the rest of France. Crime, gangs, guns and the emerging Corsican mafia influenced the everyday lives of ordinary people. Marseille also served as a hotbed for comedians and entertainers. There was a particular stage, called l'Alcazar, where Maurice Chevalier had his first solo engagement, that was noted as a testing ground for new shows.
It didn't take Gunnar Andersson long to become part of all this. He soon met Laurence, who would become his second wife. In 1952-53, while scoring ferociously for OM, he dealt with his divorce from Harriet, applied for a French passport and looked forward to the spring, when he would marry Laurence, a Parisienne. Gunnar had a penchant for older women. He had met Harriet when he was 15 and she was 18. Now, approaching 25, he was marrying a woman who had two daughters, the older in her teens. Soon enough, with sons born in 1954 and 1955, they were a family of six.
Andersson was advised to open a bar to make the most of his name. But Chez Gunnar wasn't treated as a business venture. It was more like an extension of his living room, where he was happy to treat anybody with a friendly face to a drink. Besides, Gunnar and a bar? He was a rabbit in charge of the lettuce patch.
But he was the North Star, visible all over town, popular as no one else and in 1952-53 once again top scorer in the French league. His teammates had improved, so his 35 goals (out of 62) were enough to clinch sixth place in the table. It was also a new record — one that would stand for 13 years.
Stardom, wife, kids, booze and lots of money (not necessarily in that order) created a lifestyle in which it was not uncommon for Andersson and Laurence to charter a private plane and fly from Marseille to Paris after his early training session. She would do some shopping and he would hang out with Egon Johnsson,a fellow Swede, known as 'Atom Egon', noted for his ferocious shot and his goalscoring record for Stade Français.
Late in 1953 OM made a major acquisition, bringing the much-loved veteran Larbi Ben Barek back to town. He had started out with US Marocaine of Casablanca, leaving for France in the summer of 1938 and playing one season with OM before the war. While crossing the Mediterranean his passport was somehow altered, with "born 1914" changed into 1917. The famed coach Helenio Herrera did the same in the 1930s, losing six years with a stroke of the pen as 1910 suddenly became 1916. After the war the reputation of Ben Barek had grown steadily while he played under the tutelage of Herrera at Stade Français and Atlético Madrid. He was a goal-scoring inside forward who early on attracted the nickname "the Black Pearl". Now, at 39, he had a wealth of experience. Marseille spent £12,500 to create what they thought was a world-beating strike duo. But it was not to be. The old man was too old, the young prodigy too independent. They never connected. Ben Barek invariably kept the ball for too long and Andersson's strike rate sank to human levels: 19 in 1953-54 and 21 in 1954-55.
Their one achievement together was reaching the cup final in 1954. Andersson played his part, scoring five times in the five games leading to the final. He also scored early in the second half of the final against Olympique Nice, at the Stade Colombes in Paris. But OM were already two goals down and they couldn't get back into the game. They never fired in the league, either, ending 14th and 10th in those two seasons, with Scotti buzzing all over the place as usual and Gunnar Johansson holding the reins as stopper.
With Ben Barek on his way back to Morocco, Andersson felt the air clearing. He resumed scoring (20 in 1955-56 and 23 in 1956-57) as the team rose in the league, finishing fifth and then sixth. Andersson also won a call-up for the national team. Not Sweden, which still had a ban on professionals, but France — his citizenship paid off. His original intention had been to earn a place in the World Cup squad for 1954. He failed in that effort but he was picked to play for France B v Italy B, a game staged at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille in February 1956. The French won the game 2–1, with the winner scored by Rachid Mekloufi of AS St Étienne.
The two strikers faced each other a year later, when OM lined up against ASSE in front of 36,000 at the Stade Vélodrome. Andersson wasn't going to be overshadowed again. He gave his team an early lead and had completed his hat-trick before half-time. Mekloufi struck back; he scored in the 53rd minute, banged in a second five minutes later and completed his own hat-trick soon after.
With half an hour to go, the score was 3-3. Mekloufi had created havoc in the OM defence, leaving them in danger of losing the game. What to do? Score another goal, of course. Andersson hit his fourth in the 61st minute. The game was still far from over. But OM had the guts to stand firm and hold out. Perhaps this was the game preceded by those 10 shots of pastis?
OM ended the season in style, winning the Coupe Charles Drago by beating Lens 3–1 in the final in Paris. This was a comparatively short-lived competition (1953–65), aimed at the professional clubs who had suffered early elimination from the Coupe de France. Andersson did not score in that final, but it was the only trophy the team won during his eight years with the club.
These tales from 1957 mark the apex of Andersson's days with OM. The tide would turn quickly. The team had grown old together and by 1957-58 it was breaking up. It was the last year for both Andersson and Johansson. Gunnar's winner against Alès in the 23rd round of the league proved to be his eighth for the season and last for the club. He would play only four more games before departing for second-division Montpellier in the summer of 1958.
The move was a disaster. Montpellier went nowhere and he soon lost his place in the starting line-up. Halfway through the season he was sold again, to Girondins de Bordeaux, another second division outfit. There Andersson found some form, scoring 14 goals in 10 games as Bordeaux secured the fourth and last promotion spot. The same season OM were relegated for the first time since the start of French professional football in 1932-33.
Andersson had ousted Bernard Baudet as striker at Bordeaux and the team found a reinforcement in the outside-left Laurent Robuschi, signed from Monaco. But the years had taken their toll and Andersson was now a former star. He played just 14 games that season, scoring 10 goals. Robuschi was the team's top scorer with 20. But the defence was worse than anything Andersson had experienced with OM. They were constantly bombarded, conceding 102 goals in 38 games. Bordeaux finished bottom.
Disappointed supporters began to use the old nickname 'Ten past ten' more and more often —a name derived from his Chaplinesque way of walking, feet angled out like the hands of a clock showing 10:10. Andersson's physique had never impressed anybody. His game, and subsequent success, was based on his speed and positional sense. He was quick off the mark and also packed a powerful shot. But this was all inside the penalty area. When his legs gave way he wasn't impressive at all.
That became increasingly evident during his last professional season, with Aix in 1960-61. He was lured there by his old team mate Gunnar Johansson, who was player-coach. The aim was to help them improve on their twentieth-placed finish (out of twenty) the previous season. They did that, but only because the division was cut to 19 teams. Andersson managed 10 goals in 28 games and left at the end of the season.
Andersson's star was clearly in descent. What would he do? The bar was long gone, so were his legs. But he still had a family to support and all he could hope for was a position in football. He got just that. It was a job where he was needed, one nobody else dared to take — as player-coach of CAL Oran in Algeria.
Civil war had raged in parts of the vast country since 1954. One faction, the Muslim FLN, wanted to break free from France. Meanwhile, the French descendants gathered under the flag of the OAS. They were outnumbered 10 to one and fought desperately to retain ties with the mother country, aware that a free Algeria would mean the end for the French-Christian minority.
In 1958 three leading players in the French league, all three full France internationals — Abdelaziz Ben Tifour and Mustapha Zitouni of AS Monaco and Rachid Mekloufi — were banned from French football for playing for the FLN team, an unofficial Algeria national side. It was in this climate that Andersson arrived in the summer of 1961 to work for Club Association Liberté d'Oran. The club was amateur and played in a league administered from Paris by the French federation. The competition had started in 1959 and was boycotted by Muslim clubs from the outset.
It was quite clear that his job would last only as long as Algeria remained under French rule. The FLN and the French government reached agreement on a ceasefirein Évian in March 1962. Within a month about 900,000 of the one million French had fled Algeria, most of them across the Mediterranean. The French government hadn't anticipated the full impact of their agreement with FLN and was shocked by the influx. The refugees may have looked French, but they were mostly strangers to French society and it was then that the term pieds-noirs became common.
Andersson returned to Marseille and in the midst of this vast upheaval still made the news. Marseille Magazine, an oversized lifestyle journal published locally every two weeks, carried in its June 15 issue a large photo-essay on the refugees arriving from Africa. But it also had a piece under the headline "Un Certain Andersson". The story, adorned with two large pictures — taken from a distance, making them look candid — of Gunnar shuffling boxes in a portside warehouse, told of how he now had to work to earn his money. "We meet him at a café, exhausted from a full day of manual labour, up and about since 6.30am," the story read. While he was shifting his boxes the FLN hit hard at the French remaining in Oran, perpetrating a massacre on July 5. The number of deaths is still debated, somewhere between 95 and 3,500, depending on who you ask. As the FLN attacked, the 18,000 French troops still in Oran obeyed orders not to act. The Algerian police also stood back. It was French Gendarmes who eventually put an end to the killing after a full day of violence. At around the same time Ahmed Ben Bella, the former OM reserve team player, was released after spending six years in a French prison. He returned to Algeria to challenge the leaders of FLN and eventually became the first president of an independent Algeria.
Regular work meant exhaustion for Gunnar. But he still found time to play football, for the amateurs AS Gignac in nearby Gignac-la-Nerthe. This only lasted a season (1962-63) and during the summer and early autumn of 1963 he was distressed by uncertainty. In the end he was invited by an uncle to return to his home town of Arvika to discuss his future. His uncle offered him a deal by which Gunnar would be the player-coach of IFK Arvika in the Swedish 3rd division and also run a plumbing business in his own name. They reached agreement late in 1963. Andersson's new life was to begin that winter, getting his business started and preparing the team for the new season.
But it wasn't going to be easy. Once again he got trapped in Sweden's sporting bureaucracy. He was a French citizen and so needed permissions and clearances to be eligible. The Swedish federation wrote to AS Gignac. Or so they thought. There are four towns or villages with this name in France, two of them large enough to support a sports club. The federation picked the wrong one and got no reaction at all. As April and the start of the league got nearer there was still no word from the federation.
IFK Arvika still felt they could officially present Gunnar Andersson as their coach (at least) and staged a press conference. Gunnar had been in Sweden for a few months, without his family (Laurence never even considered a move to Sweden) and clearly suffered from his new bachelor status. One story says that he turned up badly hungover at the press conference. A young reporter couldn't believe his eyes and started to take notes frantically but was taken aside by the club chairman. The reporter was told that "measures would be taken" if he wrote about what he had actually seen (and smelled).
Arvika played their first game on 19 April 1964. Gunnar was finally cleared to play a month later, making him eligible for the seventh round of league games. But he still didn't make the team, reported as being "ill". He had a warm-up game with the reserves the weekend after and finally made his debut on June 5 away at Hillringsberg. Arvika lost 2-1 and the reports were devastating: "Säffle-Gunnar made his long-awaited appearance at inside-left, but had no stamina and seemed completely lost. He wasn't fit and his moves were rigid in a way that caught the eye."
He was left out of the side for a friendly against a touring Brazilian side, Piracicaba, but played two games in the County Cup during the summer, scoring two goals, and got his next serious outing with the first team on August 9 away to Vansbro. Arvika lost again, 1-0, and it proved to be Andersson's last game for the club. In early October he was interviewed in his parents' home. "I'm going back to France now, to my wife and family," he said. He was bored out of his mind: "Everybody here goes to bed at 10 o'clock. My brother only goes on about his boat and his summer house. What kind of a life is that?"
Gunnar went to Paris, to work at the bar owned by his brother-in-law. Perhaps that was the life he wanted but that life also drew him to disaster. On Christmas Eve 1965, after little more than a year in Paris, he turned up at the doorstep of a Swedish journalist. Gunnar wanted money so he could fly back to Marseille. The journalist refused. Instead Andersson reverted to a life in the Paris Métro, as a full-time clochard, a bum sleeping in his clothes with nowhere to go.
He developed ulcers and was seriously ill when Marcel Leclerc, the newly elected chairman of OM, was told of his struggles. Leclerc, a publicist who ran several sports magazines, had an eye for PR. He immediately located Gunnar and took him to the Bichet hospital in Paris. After several operations and a few months of much-needed rest and recuperation, Andersson was fit to be exhibited by Leclerc. He took him to Marseille and invited to him to take the ceremonial kick-off as OM played the Swedish side IFK Norrköping in a friendly in late November.
That was the beginning of another phase of his life. He was installed as caretaker at the private swimming club Chevalier-Roze-Sports at Boulevard Michelet, close to the Stade Vélodrome. He was still newsworthy material. The features portray a sad man, grey beyond his 39 years, with another broken marriage behind him and a medical history that now included a blood clot in his right leg.
Roger Magnusson, the Swedish right-winger, arrived in Marseille in the summer of 1968. He was 23, at the start of a great career in the city. He knew about Andersson's misfortunes but he was still taken aback. "He used to turn up at our training sessions, chatting with the players," he said. "He usually wanted a loan, not much, just to take him through another day. But the thing was that he never dared to ask me for any money. He probably felt ashamed of it, in front of a countryman."
Gunnar had calmed down but at the same time he lost the thing that gave his life meaning: football. He was supposed to take courses to get a coaching certificate, but he never completed his badge. He trudged on, often seen in the company of portside lowlifes.
Having lost all sense of direction in life, he died in the evening of 1 October 1969 on his way to the only place in town he could still call home — the Stade Vélodrome. Andersson had been to the offices of a newspaper to get a ticket for the game against Dukla Prague in the Cup-Winners' Cup when his heart stopped. He fell to the pavement at the crossing of Rue Breteuil and Rue Sainte and died on the spot. He was buried three days later at the Saint Pierre cemetery, a tragic reminder that those who have a talent for football don't necessarily have a talent for life.