Oddball Egil the Stalking Norse in Wellies!; Olsen: He's out on His Own as the Boss Who Quite Often Quotes Marx (Karl, Not Groucho)

By Grant, Report Bill | The People (London, England), June 14, 1998 | Go to article overview

Oddball Egil the Stalking Norse in Wellies!; Olsen: He's out on His Own as the Boss Who Quite Often Quotes Marx (Karl, Not Groucho)


Grant, Report Bill, The People (London, England)


EGIL OLSEN isn't your everyday international boss - and if there are two more differing personalities in this World Cup than Craig Brown and the Norway boss they have yet to be discovered.

One is a former school teacher who plays everything by the book and is, with no disrespect intended, as normal as they come.

While the other, Mr Olsen, in some people's minds anyway, is as mad as a house!

Some of Olsen's traits have become the stuff of legend in footballing circles, such as:

Heading team-talks on quotations from the communist founding father Karl Marx.

Taking his family onto the training pitch with him so they can have a chat with the players.

He also takes the family dog around the world with him on spying missions.

Never going anywhere without his favourite WELLIE boots, which he always wears on the training pitch.

Having a great and deep desire to quit the game tomorrow - to write a NOVEL.

Labelling Scotland as the weakest team in Group A and predicting Morocco may shock us!

When Brown and Olsen shake hands before Tuesday's do-or-die encounter in Bordeaux, apart from the formality of a good luck message, it will be hard pressed to think what else they could possibly have to say to each other.

Despite being as different as chalk and cheese they have both been linked with the Celtic job. Brown dismissed those reports out of hand, but Olsen has been a bit coy about the matter this week - now there's heavy betting on a place being made availbale in Celtic's kit room next season for a pair of wellies.

Brown is a football man through and through. He eats, sleeps and talks football.

A gentleman and football scholar who speaks quietly and authoratatively about the game, though at times he prefers to keep a lot of his thoughts to himself and his closest staff.

Which is a far cry from the way Olsen conducts his business.

Some say Olsen is mad, in the nicest possible way.

Norwegians prefer to describe him as eccentric, a label which he feels comfortable with.

His list of odd moments is endless and one thing is for sure, he ain't your typical each game as it comes-style football boss.

He is a devotee of that well known communist philosopher - and football pundit - Karl Marx and quotes from his hero during team talks.

There is no Peter Reid-type swearing here - the paint always stays on the walls and every cup and saucer is safe during his educated team talks.

He says: "I have read Marx and Fredrik Engles all my adult life and I can use what they say in my football coaching.

"That is not a problem with me and it seem to work well. The players certainly respond to it."

He takes his family everywhere with him, which is admirable, although they have even been spotted beside the training pitch with Olsen himself.

He always wears wellies, due to a medical condition, and ALWAYS has the family dog with him, unless the country he is visiting has strict quarantine laws - and then he makes his trip as brief as possible.

He does look a strange sight, but he doesn't really care what opinion people in football have of him - he'll do it his way or not at all.

He admits: "Football isn't everything to me. it certainly isn't the most important aspect of my life.

"After the World Cup I have been offered a job with the Norwegian FA and the University for Sport and Physical Recreation.

"However, I just might leave football and write a novel, something I have always wanted to do."

Despite his somewhat unusual slant on life, one thing you cannot dispute is the success Olsen has since he took over the national side.

They finished top of their qualifying group without losing a game and since then beat Brazil 4-2.

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