Ewan Urain: Who is the Bilbao Athletic forward in the Scottish Under-21 squad?
Born Basque to a Biscayan father and Scottish mother, the 21-year-old plays for Athletic Bilbao second team Bilbao Athletic in Spain’s third division and has scored four goals in 18 appearances this season.
Urain – or Ewan Urain Roy Aird to give him his full name – joined Los Leones in 2015 after a stint with Cultural Durango’s hometown in Biscay.
It turned out for the club at the Under-16 and Under-17 level before scoring 19 goals for the Under-18 team. In 2018, he scored 13 goals for Spain’s fourth division team, Basauri-based CD Basconia, which serves as a foster club for Athletic Bilbao and is considered the unofficial ‘C’ team of the high level team.
Notable players to have played for Basconia include Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga; midfielder Ander Iturraspe, who has made more than 300 appearances for Athletic Bilbao; Manchester City and Spain defender Aymeric Laporte, and former Swansea, Spurs and Juventus forward Fernando Llorente, currently with Napoli.
Urain has since spent two seasons playing for the club’s B team, although he has been training with the first team since the start of the 2020/21 campaign following a request from the club’s manager era, Gaizka Garitano. He made three preseason friendlies, approaching a goal in a 2-2 draw with SD Eibar and providing an assist for Iker Muniain in a 3-1 loss to UD Logroñés.
Urain has had a few injury issues over the past nine months but still made a strong impression for Joseba Etxeberria’s side.
Bilbao Athletic finished second in Segunda’s Division B opening leg in Subgroup A of Group 2, qualifying for the promotion groups where they again finished second and reached the promotion play-offs.
Although the team beat Celta Vigo’s B team – including another young Scotsman at Jordan Holsgrove – in the first round with Urain scoring the winner, they lost to Burgo in overtime in the second round. However, their performances will see them compete in the all-new Primera División RFEF, which will again serve as the country’s third tier, from the start of the 2021/22 season.
Urain’s contract expires this summer, but he is in talks on a new long-term deal with the Basque side.
At 6ft 4in, Urain clearly replaces Fraser Hornby.
Airy strong as expected, he is also comfortable with the ball at his feet and scores a good number of assists as well as goals.
What did Gemmill say?
“He plays at a very good level, in a club which historically is very strong academically.” I spoke to him, he is signing a new long term contract and it gives real confidence to select him.
“We are looking forward to working with him and giving him the opportunity to come and be involved in the team.”
When are the under-21s in action?
Both matches against their Northern Ireland counterparts will take place at Dumbarton Stadium on Wednesday 2 and Saturday 5 June as part of Gemmill’s preparations for the 2023 European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.
However, the matches will be played behind closed doors in the absence of fans.