Ewan Urain: Scotland Under-21 lifts veil on football education at Athletic Bilbao and comparisons with Fernando Llorente
At the top, it looked like he was a ‘rumble-’em-up’ bean striker in the old-fashioned mold, even with a largely old-fashioned Scottish sounding full name: l identity of the young Ewan Urain Roy Aird. The player, more commonly referred to as simply Ewan Urain, looked perfectly at ease in the rough and tumble against a team from Northern Ireland that team Scotland Gemmill will face again at Dumbarton tomorrow, with his physical presence at heart of Scotland winning the penalty converted in their 2- 1 loss. Still, the Spanish-born striker of Athletic Bilbao’s B team had no feeling he was in a comfort zone.
Eligible thanks to his mother Diane from Hoddom, near Lockerbie, for the 21-year-old, his Scottish bow was football but not as he experienced it in the Basque country. Not that he was complaining. The opposite, in fact, with his only frustration with his early days, the fact that the covid restrictions presented his mother with the option of returning to the old country to see him.
“Everyone tells me that the Scottish style of play suits me,” Urain said. “It’s totally different for me. I’m used to playing a rather slow game in Bilbao with a lot of the ball and we create a lot. But it’s not bad for me because I have more chances. I enjoyed the game and felt I had done well. I am very proud to play for Scotland. More people can see me and it’s a big chance for me. I was really happy when the Scottish national team qualified for the Euro on penalties in Serbia in November. It would be a dream of mine to play for Scotland in a final in the future. It would be great, absolutely.
It would be great for Scotland, meanwhile, if Urain could cope with the stylistic comparisons that had drawn parallels with World Cup and European Championship winner Fernando Llorente with Spain during a brilliant career in which he won 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 leader cut his teeth with Bilbao’s B squad, before moving on to the club’s senior squad. This is the route the Scottish Under-21s now hope to take. He has trained with the senior squad over the past year and so is preparing to sign a new long-term deal with the San Mames squad.
“Since I was a young boy in Bilbao, people have compared me to Fernando Lllorente,” Urain said. “But I haven’t seen him personally in training. I don’t like to compare myself to a player as important as Lorentz, but I hope I can enjoy half of his career. I watched a lot of his games and tried to learn things but we are not quite the same kind of player. But I try to learn as much as I can from him. I would describe myself as a great player who is good at the head but I can also play with my feet. I would like to be the complete player.