Bobby Allain insists Scotland still feels like “home” despite his remarkable journey from Clyde to Olympiakos.
Allain, whose mum is Scottish, stars for the Greek giants after making the switch from Ligue 1 side Dijon FC last summer.
It’s been a wild path for the 28-year-old after spending a year at Broadwood in 2010 before turning professional in his native France.
The keeper climbed up the divisions before joining top flight side Dijon in 2018 and then making the ambitious move to Greece 12 months ago.
And Allain says it’s a move he just couldn’t turn down.
“I came to the end of my contract with Dijon and they offered me a two-year deal, but I was looking for a longer deal like maybe three or four years. I wanted to feel good with confidence as this is the way I like to work and I wanted to feel like they really wanted me to stay, but I didn’t feel that with Dijon.
“After deciding that it was time to leave, I didn’t get any news or offers for around a month but I was talking with Olympiakos and one day I got an offer and I was like let’s go. The thought of playing for a huge club In Greece and things such as the Champions League was perfect for me.”
Allain says he will never forget his Scottish roots, however.
As a youngster, Allain came to Scotland regularly on holiday and lived with his mum in East Kilbride and says he has fond memories of his time with Clyde.
It was my first professional experience and I worked under the flying pig, Andy Goram, who was a great coach. My uncle knew someone at Clyde and he told me as a joke to do a trial or something when I was only 16. I thought it was crazy and that they were never going to take me to the first team at such a young age. Andy (Goram) wanted me to stay so much, so I stayed.
John Brown was very scary at the time but I learned so much from them. I was there for seven months and then after winning the second division, they struggled financially so unfortunately, I had to find another club. I wish I could’ve stayed for longer.”
Allain spent his time in Glasgow just like all aspiring footballers, making goalposts with their hoodies and between the trees and loved going to Paradise to watch Celtic, the team he grew up supporting and even made a come get me plea to his boyhood club.
Allain says Scotland is like “home” and would move back to Glasgow in a heartbeat.
“I love Scotland, it’s like a second home. I always tell my parents that Clyde was the best experience for me. I actually love the rainy days and the people are amazing also.”
The goalkeeper’s eyes lit up when speaking about representing the Scottish National team and it was clear to see how passionate he is about playing for them.
“I think about the Scottish team all the time. Of course, it is something I’d love to do and it would be an absolute honour to play at Hampden Park in front of the Tartan army.
“I know if I want to achieve this, I have to keep working hard and playing as often as I can
“A lot of people think there is a problem such as me being born in France etc, but I can 100% represent Scotland. I am watching the team all the time and I know who’s coming and going and where the other goalkeepers are playing. I really hope it can happen.”
This season, Bobby has had to bide his time and has been playing mostly in the Greek Cup for his new club, but since the turn of the new year, the Frenchman has been pushing for a regular first-team spot and is getting his chances.
He made his league debut at the start of July against OFI Crete and has since gone on to make some more appearances to help wrap up the club’s 45th Greek Super League title.
He’s also been on the bench against the likes of Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Arsenal and will be travelling to Molineux next month for the second leg of the Europa League last 16 against Wolves.
“It was quite special as I didn’t expect it. When the coaches were announcing the team at the meeting it was great to hear my name as starting. I’m glad to be getting more chances because I think the coach needs to see how I am on the pitch and just now it is going well.
“Being part of the European squad is something that is very new to me and it’s so exciting. It’s a completely different level to our league as it’s very low speed. Playing against the teams such as Bayern and Tottenham were tough but we showed that we can compete with these teams.
The Greek football fans are the best in the world. They love their football so much and make the stadium very hostile to opposition teams. This is what the Bayern Munich players said to us after the game, that they make it very tough to play against Olympiakos and that they are a big advantage for us.”
Allain has his sights set on more game time next season as he goes into the final year of his contract in Greece.
“I have told the coaches at Olympiakos that I want to be playing more games. I am improving with every single game that I play, so I hope I can play a whole season. I hope this can happen or we will find a solution, but I really want to stay with Olympiakos.”
“Overall, I have really enjoyed the last year at Olympiakos and we have a very good team. Even from the bench it was a fantastic experience. I feel like I can definitely compete for a regular starting place.”
It’s not just on the pitch where Allain has made an impact.
Both of his parents are deaf so he has learned sign language and has helped his dad as the goalkeeper coach at the French deaf national team as a youngster.
“It was a good experience and it’s something I am and was proud to be part of. I loved working along with my dad and really enjoyed my role.”