Ewan Urain: Scotland under-21 lifts lid on his Athletic Bilbao footballing upbringing and Fernando Llorente comparisons

Everything seemed as traditionally would have been expected when watching Scotland Under-21s the other day.

Ewan Urain in pensive mood during his Scotland under-21 debut that saw the Spanish-born-and-raised striker win a penalty that could not prevent Scot Gemmill's men losing out 2-1 in their friendly against Northern Ireland at Dumbarton on Wednesday. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Up top appeared to be a ‘rumble-’em-up’ beanpole striker in the old-fashioned mould, even with old-fashioned Scottish sounding full name in large part: the identity of the youngster one Ewan Urain Roy Aird. The player, more commonly known as simply Ewan Urain, seemed perfectly at home in the rough and tumble against a Northern Ireland team that Scotland Gemmill’s team will face again in Dumbarton tomorrow, his physical presence central to Scotland winning the penalty converted in their 2-1 defeat. Yet there was no sense of being in a comfort zone for the Spanish-born forward with Athletic Bilbao’s B team.

Eligible by dint of his mother Diane hailing from Hoddom, near Lockerbie, for the 21-year-old his Scotland bow was football but not as he’s known it in the Basque country. Not that he was complaining. The opposite, in fact, with his only frustration over his debut the fact that covid restrictions presented his mum being able to return to the old country to see it.

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“Everyone tells me that the Scottish playing style suits me,” Urain said. “It is totally different for me. I am used to playing quite a slow game in Bilbao with a lot of the ball and we create a lot. But this is not bad for me because I get more chances. I enjoyed the game and I felt I did quite well. I am very proud to play for Scotland. More people can see me and this is a great chance for me. I was really happy when the Scotland national team qualified for the Euros on penalties in Serbia back in November. It would be a dream of mine to play for Scotland at a finals in future. That would be great, absolutely.”

It would be great for Scotland, meanwhile, if Urain can make good on the stylistic comparisons that had drawn parallels with Fernando Llorente, a World Cup and European Championship winner with Spain across a glittering career in which he claimed three titles at Juventus, the Europa League with Sevilla and was a Champions League finalist with Tottenham Hotspur. Like Urain, the now 36-year-old Udinese frontman cut his teeth with Bilbao’s B team, before graduating to the club’s senior side. That is the route the Scotland under-21 now hopes to take. He has trained with the senior squad across the past year and as a result is preparing to sign a new long-term deal with the San Mames outfit.

“Ever since I was a young boy in Bilbao people used to compare me with Fernando Lllorente,” Urain said. “But I have not seen him personally in training. I don’t like to compare myself with such a big player as Lorentz but I hope I can go on to enjoy even half of the career he has had. I have watched a lot of his games and tried to learn things but we are not totally the same kind of player. But I try to learn as much as I can from him. I would describe myself as a tall player who is good at heading the ball but I can also play with my feet. I’d like to be the complete player.”

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