Few have meant more to Norwegian sports 

Norway mourns former Rosenborg coach Nils Arne Eggen’s death


Photo: Gorm Kallestad
Rosenborg Coach Nils Arne Eggen laughs during the Champions League press conference at Lerkendal Stadium on on Oct. 1, 2002, the day before facing Dutch power Ajax. Eggen died Jan. 19.


Trondheim’s Rosenborg coaching legend Nils Arne Eggen is dead at 80 years old. He is remembered as a team player, role model, and “a firework of mood and energy,” among the best in Norwegian sports.

“The Egg” passed peacefully with his family around him on Jan. 19.

“It was with sorrow that Rosenborg today received the message that the club’s greatest legend has died,” wrote Rosenborg Ballklub (RBK).

“Sad to receive the news that Nils Arne Eggen is dead,” said Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen to Norwegian newswire service NTB. “Few people have meant more to Norwegian sports than him, and few people have shown so many that the impossible is possible.” 

Eggen’s knowledge and commitment extended far beyond football. In the autumn of 1996, he was offered the position of Minister of Culture and Sports in Thorbjørn Jagland’s government.

“Eggen was a true social democrat,” said Trettebergstuen. “Throughout his career, he was concerned with being a team player, and that a team is best when they play each other well.” 

Football adventure

Eggen is the most successful football coach in Norwegian history on the club side. He led the Trondheim team with success for several decades.

“Nils Arne Eggen was a legend and a role model, both on a personal and sporting level,” said Berit Kjøll, president of the Norwegian Federation of Sports. “It is therefore with great sadness that Norwegian Sports and I have received the sad message that he has passed away.”

She believes Eggen has also been important elsewhere besides sports.

“Eggen’s good foot theory will forever be a good example of his football professional competence and mindset,” said Kjøll. “His leadership philosophy has contributed to both sporting and social development where the importance of teamwork and the collective will always triumph over individual talents and skills.”


Many football profiles remembered Eggen when the passing of the RBK legend become known.

“He was a firework of mood and energy,” said former national team manager Egil “Drillo” Olsen to VG. “I have had a long life with Nils Arne since we started as players at Vålerenga, where we drove in his Mini from Blindern to Valle to train.”

“It was terrible to hear,” said national team manager Ståle Solbakken to TV 2. “He has had an enormous significance for Norwegian football and is one who has driven club football forward and shown everyone what is possible. He stands [above all others and is a model] for all Norwegian football coaches.”

As a player, Eggen became league champion with both Rosenborg and Vålerenga. There were also 29 A-national team matches.

With the occasionally furious, committed, and outspoken Eggen in the manager’s chair, the coaching legend created a football adventure at Lerkendal Stadium. Champions League victories away against Borussia Dortmund (3-0) and Milan (2-1) will forever be remembered by many.

In 1998, Real Madrid won the Champions League, but on the way, they lost 0-2 at Lerkendal. The Real Madrid stars did not cope well meeting with Norwegian winter.

Health challenges

Eggen was first hired as RBK coach in 1971. However, Eggen achieved his real success when he took over the same job for the fourth time in 1988. His last coaching job was in Orkla from 2011 to 2016.

In recent years, Eggen struggled with health challenges. Parts of both legs were amputated, among other things. It did not take the courage and joy of life from “The Egg.”

“It is clear that you get a little annoyed when you have to mobilize almost to the max to get to the bathroom,” he said in an interview with NTB in 2019. “There will be other forms of platforms to master things on now, such as getting food and grooming.

“I have tried with one foot, and it has gone well. It is a challenge, and then you have to take it as it is. This is really about the same driving forces as when I played for Rosenborg as an 18-year-old and later the national team a long time ago.”


Photo: Ole Martin Vold / NTB
Rosenborg players were among those who came to lay flowers and light candles by the statue of legendary Rosenborg coach Nils Arne Eggen outside Lerkendal Stadium on Jan. 19, the day he died.

His own statue

Despite the health problems, Eggen was passionate about everything that was going on in the Rosenborg community and followed the club closely until recently.

In 2019, the Eggen statue was unveiled at Nils Arne Eggen Square outside Lerkendal.

“I can live well with [the statue],” said the man who led Rosenborg to a total of 14 league championships. “This is on behalf of everyone who has spent most of their lives making Rosenborg the best it can be. I’m just a symbol looking outward.”

On the evening of his death, many people, including players, laid flowers and lit candles by the statue.

Translated by Michael Kleiner

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 4, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway