AFTER a nervous wait, Newton Stewart teenager Aaron Splaine got the news every Scottish schoolboy dreams of last week when he was selected as part of the Lloyds TSB Under-18 Scotland football squad for the 2013 Centenary Shield.
The final trials, which took place at Toryglen Recreation Football Centre, whittled the 34-strong contingent down to just 18 and the Queen of the South striker will now get the chance to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish.
Opening their campaign away to Northern Ireland on February 22, followed by a trip to face Wales, the Scots welcome the Republic of Ireland in March before the clash against the Auld Enemy, England, on April 12.
But even though there is still two months before Douglas Ewart High School pupil Aaron gets to don the famous blue jersey, he doubts it will compare to the agonising wait that preceded his call-up. “I was very nervous when I arrived but as soon as I started playing I was fine; it just goes when you settle down and play,” said the 16-year-old.
“I played well in the first half and got the ball at my feet, which definitely helped me early on. I was dying, it was the longest half an hour of my life. I’m absolutely buzzing. It’s definitely an honour and a privilege to get to play for your country. I never really started playing football until I was about six, and I’ve never been interested in watching it – I just love playing it.
“I’ve been with Queen of the South for four years, I play with the under-19s a lot and sometimes with the reserves.
“I can’t wait to play now, I want it to happen soon. Whoever wants it the most on the day will fancy their chances. It’s a great experience, and this can hopefully bring me on as a player.”
Head coach Stewart Taylor, who has been involved with Scottish youth set-up since 1991, admits his latest troops have a great chance of repeating 2011’s successful campaign. But he believes the likes of Aaron will benefit from their taste of international football, whether they lift the shield or not.
“It’s a huge, and a very necessary, facility that we offer with international schoolboy football,” said Taylor.
“Some of these lads have probably had the opportunity to turn professional but they have already declined the opportunity and stayed on at school, and we feel it’s only right that they get the chance to sample international football of a high standard.”