As far as colourful stories go, Dundee’s new defensive addition Julen Etxabeguren’s is up there with the best of them.
The centre-back was two years ago named in Real Sociedad’s Champions League squad, before walking away from football to pursue a master’s degree in Edinburgh.
He grew up in Spain alongside £30 million Manchester United and Chelsea target Antoine Griezmann.
The 24-year-old admits he is a massive fan of Scot David Moyes and definitely sees himself as Basque first, Spanish second.
After all that, which included six months of part-time football with Gary Naismith’s East Fife, he finds himself at Dens Park, with a point to prove in the game. And Julen, for short, admits he can’t wait to get started.
“It’s a big club to sign for,” he said of coming to Dundee.
“I’m very excited for the season because it is a big step up for me from part-time football with East Fife.”
Julen missed out on the chance to shine at Sociedad due to injury. Having played the full pre-season in 2013/14 with the first-team, and named in their Champions League 25, injury struck.
With all respect, many would see the Dark Blues as some step down from that but Julen is not that way inclined.
“Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to end up going forwards,” he said, from the club’s Budapest summer training base.
“Some would see the Champions League to Scottish Premiership as a step down. I do not. This is just a personal feeling.
“They offered me a contract to stay but they gave me too many promises they didn’t keep.
“That’s why I decided to move on. The best thing for me, I felt, was to move away to a completely different place.”
Due to a lack of first-team opportunities, Julen gave up the game for a short while, deciding to further his electronic engineering degree picked up in San Sebastian in the Basque Country with a master’s and internship in Scotland.
And it was when those studies began to wrap up that his mind wandered back to playing again, part-time, in League Two with East Fife.
“My agent in Spain set the whole deal up for me,” he said.
“I enjoyed my time there and I thank the manager for the opportunity.
“It was a shock at first but you get used to the game. It’s a lot more physical and direct.
“I actually enjoy the style of football here better.”
Just a few years ago he was marking French international and potential Euro 2016 superstar Griezmann in training, having come up through the ranks. But Julen admits life is a lot simpler now.
“He’s an awesome player. When we were young, he was not physically strong but that was the only criticism you could make of him.
“In terms of ability you could see he was going to go on to great things.
“I should know because I had to mark him in training.”
And of former Everton and Manchester United boss Moyes, in charge of his old club Sociedad, Julen says he’s the perfect fit.
“They have a very good Scottish manager. Probably the best one there is,” he said. “I’m sure they will have a very good season.
“The fans like Moyes but the pressure is on for him really.
“Last season was not a very successful one. The team went from playing in the Champions League the year before to out of Europe altogether.
“Next year they will not play again but they are capable of great things.
“As I still have lots of friends there, I certainly hope so anyway.”