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High celebrity factor

Look-alike: Nils Engen is often mistaken for British singer Rod Stewart. FOTO: John Christian Nygaard

High celebrity factor

If you think Rod Stewart is now a taxi driver in Longyearbyen, you're excused.

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09.08.2015 kl 20:40

Nils Engen, 65, has only been living in Longyearbyen for a month, but he's already become a celebrity in town. Take another look at the picture above and you may conclude you're looking at British singer Rod Stewart, 70.

"There are some years that separate us, but otherwise we are of the same size and caliber," Nils said, laughing.

It all started 20 years ago with a female barber who wanted to try something new.

"Now it has just become that way. Twenty years ago, no one thought that I looked like Rod Stewart. Now over 95 percent of all the people I drive are commenting about it. Then there are some who do not dare to say anything, but you see it on them," said Nils with a smile.

What does he think about his quick rise to fame?

"I don't mind it. But I'm beginning to wonder how Rod Stewart has it. It must be hell," Nils said with another laugh.

Signing autographs
Engen said he also gets some attention when he is abroad on holiday.

"When a waiter comes over and wants an autograph, I play along," he said. "Then I get extra good service with drinks and everything. It is great fun, even for those who are with me."

Does he attract any women because of the resemblence?

"I had almost expected that, but so far it has not happened," Engen said, laughing again. "You have to write that I'm single, because Rod Stewart as a pickup line alone is not enough."

Has he considered rigging a "karaoke taxi?"

"There are some tourists who ask if I will sing in the taxi and they often come with suggestions for a tune," Engen said. "But it is difficult to imitate the voice of Rod Stewart. I have to take some nips of whiskey to do it."

'Something completely new'
Before moving to Longyearbyen, Engen lived at Grong in Nord-Trøndelag, where he ran a hotel and a bus company. The hotel has been sold and, although he still owns the bus company, Nils chose to move to Longyearbyen.

"I wanted to try something completely new before I was too old, and have a mate who has a knack for persuasion," he said. "But I have not regretted it for a second that I came here. Longyearbyen is a wonderful place with lots of nice people."

Is he planning on being here long?

"Yes, but I have a daughter of 12 years who is moving up here after the summer," Engen said. "So it up to her how things will turn out."

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