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Egil Olsen

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Title: Egil Olsen  
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Subject: 1994 FIFA World Cup Group E, Norway national football team, Wimbledon F.C., Jostein Flo, Nils Arne Eggen
Collection: 1942 Births, 1994 Fifa World Cup Managers, 1998 Fifa World Cup Managers, Aalesunds Fk Managers, Expatriate Football Managers in England, Fredrikstad Fk Managers, Frigg Oslo Fk Players, Iraq National Football Team Managers, Kniksen Award Winners, Living People, Lyn Fotball Managers, Norway International Footballers, Norway National Football Team Managers, Norwegian Communists, Norwegian Expatriate Football Managers, Norwegian Football Managers, Norwegian Footballers, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences Alumni, Premier League Managers, Sarpsborg Fk Players, Sportspeople from Fredrikstad, Vålerenga Fotball Managers, Vålerenga Fotball Players, Wimbledon F.C. Managers
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Egil Olsen

Egil Olsen
Personal information
Full name Egil Roger Olsen
Date of birth (1942-04-22) 22 April 1942
Place of birth Fredrikstad, Norway
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1958–1965 Østsiden
1964 Vålerenga
1966–1967 Vålerenga
1968–1971 Sarpsborg
1972–1974 Frigg
1975 Hasle-Løren
National team
1964–1971 Norway 16 (0)
Teams managed
1972–1973 Frigg
1974 Frigg
1975 Hasle-Løren
1976 Østsiden
1977 Fossum
1978–1979 Frigg
1979–1985 Norway U21
1981–1983 Frigg
1985–1988 Lyn[1]
1989 Aalesund
1990 Norway U23
1990–1998 Norway
1998–1999 Vålerenga
1999–2000 Wimbledon
2002–2003 Norway U19[2]
2004–2005 Fredrikstad
2007–2008 Iraq
2009–2013 Norway

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Egil Roger Olsen (born 22 April 1942 in Fredrikstad), nicknamed Drillo, is a Norwegian football manager and former footballer.[3][4] He is best known as a highly successful manager of the Norway national team. He has since been manager of the Iraqi national football team, his departure from which caused considerable attention. In January 2009, he made a comeback as manager for the Norwegian national football team.


  • Club career 1
  • Managerial career 2
  • Football philosophy 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Managerial statistics 5
  • References 6

Club career

Olsen was a successful player with 16 caps for the national team, earning the nickname "Drillo" from his dribbling skills and technical ability. According to close friend Nils Arne Eggen, Olsen would have been awarded with more caps as a player, had it not been for Willi Kment, Norway's manager at the time, who did not approve of Olsen's long hair and generally scruffy appearance, as well as his personal political views. Olsen was also a formidable bandy player, while playing football.

Managerial career

Olsen speaking to the press following a 2012 friendly match between Norway and England

He managed the Norwegian team from 1990 to 1998, guiding them to World Cup final tournaments in 1994 and 1998, with Norway peaking at number two on the FIFA ranking. He worked from 2005 to 2007 as an analyst for Vålerengens IF before joining

In 1995 as Norway manager Egil Olsen used one of his three votes to nominate Norwegian women's football star Hege Riise as the FIFA World Player of the Year. The first time a woman player had been nominated in what is seen as a men's football award.[5]

In June 1999, the then 57-year-old Olsen made his appearance in English football, when he was named as manager of Wimbledon.[6] He reportedly turned down an approach from Celtic[7] to take charge of the London club, becoming the first Norwegian to manage in the Premier League.[8] Olsen has stated that his favorite player at the club was Welsh international Ben Thatcher. He remained in charge for less than a year, and was sacked just before the club was relegated from the Premier League,[9] having been top division members since 1986. Club captain Robbie Earle said that "Olsen just didn't know how to get the best out of us".[10]

On 19 May 2007, Olsen rejected an offer to manage the Iraq national football team citing a busy schedule.[11] However, the Iraqi football president vowed not to give up on his signature and on 17 September, Olsen signed a three-year contract.[12] In February 2008, Iraq sacked Olsen without telling him. He had tried to contact them by several means, but received the message when a new manager was installed, this action on the Iraqis part was very unexpected and their reason was said to be that they did not believe Olsen was strict enough.

On 14 January 2009, it was announced that Olsen would once again manage the Norway national football team in an interim period until a successor for Åge Hareide can be found.[13]

In their first game under his management, they beat Germany 0–1 in a friendly away game in Düsseldorf. It is the first time Norway has won against Germany, since the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[14]

With Olsen as manager Norway rose from rank 59 in 2009 to rank 11 in 2011 on the FIFA rankings.[15]

On 27 September 2013, Olsen agreed to stand down as Norway coach following the World Cup qualifying defeat at home to Switzerland. [16]

Football philosophy

Olsen has sometimes been called a "football professor" for his scientific approach to the game, and was arguably one of the first managers to use video analysis of matches. He has collected statistical data to find out which playing styles are the most efficient. As Norway manager, he argued that as Norway didn't have the players to beat the best teams, they needed a smarter playing style than them, and one that fit Norway's skills. Ironically, his preferred style of football has historically often been called primitive.

He has found that breakaways played an important role immediately prior to many goals, and that counter-attacks after breakaways should be carried out as fast and directly as possible before the opponent can organise their defense. According to Olsen, only few goals are scored against what he calls an "established defense". As a large number of transverse passes or trying to play out an established defense with short passes and combinations increases the chance of a breakdown against, often in dangerous positions, his strategy was to make long passes against an established defense when no direct path forwards could be found. More precisely, defenders should in these cases play high, long passes towards attackers or flank players. His use of a player with good heading abilities as a target man on the flank, such as Jostein Flo, was a major break with the established idea that all flank players should be small, quick and good dribblers.

He is opposed to stationary offensive players, and argues that offensive runs (also for players that do not possess the ball) should be carried out as often as possible when one's team has the ball, as multiple simultaneous runs are very difficult to defend against. He also holds the idea that breakthrough passes to the area behind the opponent's defensive line should be sought out very often, and that frequent offensive runs towards this area is important. He also coined the phrase "å være best uten ball" (roughly "to be best at off-the-ball running", lit. "to be best without the ball") which gained some fame in Norway. It was originally said about Øyvind Leonhardsen, a player doing an exceptional number of runs during games.

Olsen is also an ardent supporter of zone defense, as opposed to man-to-man marking. He also argues that players with extreme skills (extremely fast, extremely good headers, extremely good dribblers, extremely good passers etc.), as opposed to players with only good all-round skills, are important in football.

His long-ball philosophy, use of the 4–5–1 system and his teams' often extremely successful defending earned him a bad reputation of boring football, even during the period when his results as Norway manager were astonishing. However, later in his first tenure, Norway showed signs of moving away from this philosophy–notably in their wins against Brazil in 1997 and 1998.[17]

His thoughts, together with those of Nils Arne Eggen, have had a strong impact on Norwegian football. Norwegian club sides generally make many runs without ball, play zone defense and are very focused on fast counter-attacks. The idea of playing long balls against an established defense, however, has become increasingly unfashionable in Norway in later years.

Personal life

Olsen was a member of the Norwegian Workers' Communist Party (known as AKP (m-l)). He is also known for his immense knowledge of geographical trivia, proven by his 2002 published factbook "Drillos Verden" (English: "Drillo's World") published by Erling Kagge's publishing house Kagge Forlag (ISBN 9788248902447 Norway).

Managerial statistics

As of 15 October 2013.[18]
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L GF GA +/- Win %
Lyn 1985 1988
Aalesund 1989 1989
Norway U23 1990 1990
Norway 11 October 1990 30 June 1998 88 46 26 16 168 63 +105 52.27
Vålerenga 1998 1999 20 11 1 8 55
Wimbledon 9 June 1999 1 May 2000 43 11 12 20 55 80 –25 25.58
Norway U19 2002 2003 7 4 2 1 8 6 +2 57.14
Fredrikstad 2004 2005 26 8 7 11 35 44 –9 30.77
Iraq 2007 2008 6 2 3 1 12 5 +7 33.33
Norway 14 January 2009 27 September 2013 50 25 9 16 63 50 +13 50
Total 240 107 60 73 341 248 +93 44.58


  1. ^ Erik Sexe Andersen og Torstein Velvang. "Egil Olsen som Lyn-trener". Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  2. ^ "Olsen return lifts Norway U19s". Union of European Football Associations. 18 December 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Store norske leksikon - Egil "Drillo" Olsen". 1958-11-29. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  4. ^ "Store norske leksikon - Egil "Drillo" Olsen – utdypning (NBL-artikkel)". 1958-11-29. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Sport: Football – Olsen confirmed as Wimbledon boss". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 9 June 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Egil not hip to Celtic". 6 June 1998. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Olsen joins the Dons". New Straits Times. 10 June 1999. 
  9. ^ "Olsen axed by Wimbledon". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 1 May 2000. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Earle, Robbie (3 February 2011). "Robbie Earle: Player power could spark Vale promotion surge". The Sentinel. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  11. ^ Overvik, Jostein (19 May 2007). "Drillo ikke til Irak kan få nytt tilbud i august".  
  12. ^ "Former Norway manager Olsen to coach Iraq". Reuters (ESPN Soccernet). 17 September 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Football: "Drillo" back for Norway". The Norway Post.  
  14. ^ "Germany embarrassed in Norway friendly".  
  15. ^ "Semb: - Helt utrolig" (in Norwegian). Aftenposten. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Football: World Cup – Brazil 1 Norway 2". 25 June 1998. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "Norwegian National Football Team Matches".  
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