Ethan Laidlaw has been shining on the international stage since his dream debut for Scotland’s U17s back in September.
The youngster wasn’t called up to the original Under-17 Scotland squad that time around but was a stand-out player for Brian McLaughlin’s side.
Impressive performances for our wee Hibees put him on McLaughlin’s radar, before he received his first call-up as a replacement.
“My dad told me about the call-up,” said Ethan. “I wasn’t in the first squad, so I must’ve impressed them in the Aberdeen game.
“I was so happy when I found out about being part of Scotland’s Under-17 squad. Not everyone gets to play for their country from a young age!”
Shortly after the news from his dad, he joined up with his teammates – a completely new group he hadn’t even met before.
“I enjoyed the camp a lot. It was different. I didn’t know anyone in the Under-17 squad, so I was having to get to know the boys.
“There was me and a few boys from down south that had their first time of being there. You get to know them as the week goes on and playing games obviously helps.”
Alongside meeting new players, he also had to contend with new types of training, a new schedule, and new coaches, all of which will help him develop and progress faster as a player.
“The training and coaching were more in-depth to how Scotland play, so you’d have double sessions – one in the morning based on in-possession play and one in the afternoon about pressing and setups – it was different but enjoyable at the same time. It’ll help me manage different situations in games, which is so valuable.”
Both of Scotland’s Under-17s games were against Wales, the first ended 1-1, but Ethan was an unused substitute.
“It was frustrating not to play in the first game,” he said. “But I understood as I wasn’t in the first squad. I knew there was another game on the Sunday, so I was focused on that one.
“I knew I had to prove a point on the Sunday, especially with the Euro qualifiers coming up, to show them I was good enough.”
And prove a point he did, really making a name for himself among his teammates, coaches, supporters, and further afield by scoring a hat-trick on his Scotland Under-17 debut.
“At the time of my first goal we were 2-0 down, so I was annoyed that we were behind.
“The goal came from Wales trying to play a ball out of the back into the middle of the park, which was intercepted by one of our centre midfielders. He played a through ball to me, the defenders were split wide, so I ran through and saw the tinniest gap at the near post and curled the ball past the goalkeeper. I was really happy to score, but at the same time, I knew we were still losing.
“The second goal was similar, but it was more central. The goalkeeper was quite high in his box, so I composed myself, took it round him and passed it in. The defenders were running back, so I had to
make an early decision and it was a good finish. That made it 2-2, so threw in a wee knee slide.
“The third started with our goalkeeper. He switched the play to our right-back who had pressed on. He took a touch and fed me down the line. He put the ball inside the centre-back. I stopped the ball, took my time to analyse what the goalkeeper was doing – he put himself in a bad position – so I saw a gap and placed the ball in. That put us 3-2 up and was a big moment. I was really happy in the moment.”
The young Scots were sadly beaten 4-3. But despite the disappointing result, it will still be a game that sticks in the mind of Ethan forever.
“When I look back it’s such a happy memory. A really proud moment for me. I will never forget my first goal for my country at any level.”
Since, Ethan has been working hard and has been continually selected for the Young Scots. Alongside this, he’s been progressing well with our U18s, so he can reach his full potential.
“I’m focused on the Under-18s, we’ve got a lot of games coming up, so hopefully I’ll keep scoring, playing well, impressing coaches and more chances might come. I’ll keep my head down and keep working.”