Lawrence Shankland is made in Scotland from girders just like Irn Bru – and a gift of our national drink has put the fizz into his new life in Belgium.
Irn Bru can be hard to find beyond Scottish shores but spotting one of our footballers abroad is often just as big a challenge.
Former Dundee United star Ryan Gauld has spent seven years plying his trade away from home in Portugal and Canada.
And while Shankland is just beginning his journey as a Scot abroad after his £1 million move from Dundee United to Belgian side Beerschot, he’s off to a good start.
Shankland is keen to embrace his new club, country and culture, having always dreamed of living abroad.
— K. Beerschot V.A. (@kbeerschotva) August 11, 2021
The French he picked up in school has already come in handy as he integrates into the multi-lingual dressing room at the Olympisch Stadion in Antwerp.
Shankland is waiting for his wife Nicole and daughter Eva to join him in Belgium.
But thanks to Beerschot, Shankland already has a small piece of Scotland with him.
“I’ve already managed to get a hold of Irn Bru in Belgium,” said Shankland. “I’ve got a source.
“Someone brought some into the club for me so that was a nice wee welcome.
Yee-haw! Our new TV ad is out, and it’s mighty fine. Scan yer can (or any IRN-BRU pack) and take a look, ya’ll! pic.twitter.com/GAR2MdVmp6
— IRN-BRU (@irnbru) July 12, 2021
“I miss my family as I’m on my own at the moment.
“But as soon as things settle and they can travel freely again I’ll get my family over and settled.
“I’m sure I’ll settle. I don’t know how often I’ve said: ‘I’d love to live somewhere else’ so this is my opportunity.
“This move takes me out of my comfort zone.
“As a Scottish person, it’s not something that happens often. We don’t tend to move abroad.
“The majority of Scottish players who leave the country go down to England so this was unusual.
“Before me, Jack Hendry came here last season and David Bates played in the league. Clubs here are now fishing in the Scottish market.
“It’s a totally different league, a different style of football and something I was keen to exploit.
“I’d never really thought about Belgium before.
“There hasn’t often been a pathway from Belgium to Scotland. Not many people have made that switch.
“That was probably part of the attraction for me – to try something different.
“It can improve me – not just as a player but as a person too.
“I’m going to throw myself into a different way of life and culture.
“It’s a big decision but one that can set me up well – not just in football but in life in general.
“I already feel comfortable.
“I was actually not too bad at French at school so when the French-speaking players talk there are a few words that ring a bell.
“Dutch may cause me more problems but when I get my housing situation sorted I’ll look at language lessons.”
Lawrence Shankland aims to make history in Belgium
Beerschot have had a colourful history since the club was formed in 1899 as an offshot of local rivals Royal Antwerp.
They have been bankrupt twice – in 1999 and 2013.
A 12-year merger with Germinal Ekeren that saw them build links with Ajax ended in 2012, but saw them develop the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele.
Their second bankruptcy saw them start again in the regional leagues as K. Beerschot V.A. but the Antwerp side have tasted several years of glory.
Five promotions in seven years took them back to the top flight in 2020.
In their first season back up, they narrowly missed out on the play-offs for the Europa Conference League.
Beerschot are currently bottom but are hoping Shankland’s goals can help them climb the table.
And after confiding in former United star Freddy Frans before making the switch, Shankland can’t wait to get off the mark.
— OurDUFC (@OurDUFC) May 20, 2021
“Freddy was the only person I spoke to,” said Shankland.
“I wanted knowledge that could come in handy for me before I made the decision to come over.
“He spoke highly of the place and luckily he wasn’t telling me any lies!
“Hopefully, my first goal won’t be too long in coming but it’s not something I want to put myself to get.”