ATTA Yaqub had been Loached. One moment the Glasgow-born model was sashaying down catwalks amid the flashbulbs of London fashion week, the next he was the focus of the paparazzi on the red carpets of Berlin Film Festival and being feted as a fresh new acting star.

It was 2004, and in the time it takes a drama student to finish their final year, Yaqub had completed a crash course at the knee of a British cinema auteur as the lead in Ken Loach's Ae Fond Kiss, and was suddenly front and centre of the Scottish film industry, without ever meaning to be. Expectations were high, and the course seemed set.

Fast forward 13 years since his big moment, and Atta Yaqub is studying at night classes in Glasgow. In acting.

“I was beginning to think it might all be over,” says the 38-year-old, looking back on the highs and lows of the film and TV career he never expected to have. “But I always knew I had been involved in something really substantial. So I felt I had to take classes otherwise I’d be cheating myself. Acting is a constant learning game.”

As the male lead in 2004’s Ae Fond Kiss, the third part of veteran director Loach’s so-called Glasgow Trilogy which included My Name Is Joe and Sweet Sixteen, the then 25-year-old part-time model and youth worker had become a member of a select gang, each anointed by the independent film star-maker, who’d redirected Peter Mullan down the road to Hollywood and transformed Morton trainee footballer Martin Compston’s prospects from cleaning boots at Cappielow to winning at Cannes.

Yaqub went with the early momentum, heading to London, signing with an international agent, readying himself for the step up. “I'd worked hard but I didn’t know what would happen next,” he says. “I was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards, and the film was given premieres at prestigious events like the Berlin Film Festival.

"I went all over the world with it, Europe, the States. It was massive and I think we did something really good. I never gave up on that. I did a few TV things after it up until about 2008. But then it just went quiet.”

It’s one of the inherent risks that comes with being Loached.

For every Martin Compston, there’s a William Ruane, his redheaded co-star of Sweet Sixteen, who now sells holidays and takes sporadic parts when they come along. Ruane is arguably every bit as able as his old mate – who's now at the top of his game in BBC1’s police drama Line Of Duty – except when it comes to catching a break.

Loach’s naturalistic style suits his films, but it can't give a comprehensive training to actors who aren’t, well, actors.

Yaqub was forced to acknowledge that the grounding he had received in Ae Fond Kiss, in which he played a Muslim man in a relationship with a Catholic schoolteacher (played by Eva Birthistle), was unlikely to sustain a movie career.

However, the themes his breakthrough role explored would be relevant to his next career move, away from the cameras of the catwalk and the film studio.

Yaqub was born in Glasgow, the youngest child of three boys and two girls. He was raised on the city's south side by his mother Nursat after his father Mohammed – an engineer who’d worked on the QE2 – died when his last child was just four.

Growing up, he harboured no desire to become an actor, though he did once play the Lion in The Wizard Of Oz for his school show at Shawlands Academy, because his best mate egged him on.

Instead, he studied business at Strathclyde University, landed a job as a social worker and followed one of his big brothers into modelling, his handsome looks and clothes-horse frame landing him on the catwalks of London Fashion Week.

It was while of the books of a Glasgow modelling agency that he came to the attention of the producers of Sixteen Films, Loach’s company, known for taking chances on untrained turns. With good looks and ease in front of the camera, surely he stood as good a chance as the rest of them?

Today, the actor has arrived at Glasgow's Princes Square for our interview in his gym gear, straight from a yoga class. He has started playing football again, he tells me, and needs to stay flexible.

There’s probably no better word to describe his approach to work. The old joke about actors taking jobs waiting tables between roles doesn’t apply here. If anything, it’s the other way around.

Having gone south in the hope of capitalising on his dream start, Yaqub returned after a couple of years, acknowledging that the bit parts were gradually giving way to no parts.

“It was life-changing,” he says. “I signed up with an agent in London, which was high-risk for me. I was a small fish in a big pond and it didn’t work. When it went stale I realised I had to rediscover myself and get a greater understanding of what the industry is.”

Before being Loached, Yaqub had worked in youth development with the Youth Counselling Services Agency, and established Glasgow Ansar football club (Ansar is an acronym of All Nations Sports Arts Recreation). On returning from London, he took a job promoting diversity at the SFA, which, in turn, led to a role at The Prince’s Trust charity.

Back in February, we met up in a quiet corner of the charity’s office, ostensibly to talk about his short but pivotal silver screen reappearance in T2 Trainspotting, in which he played a medic who inadvertently helped Begbie jump jail in Danny Boyle's well-received sequel. The feeling then was one of borrowing time from the day job, to sneak in some showbiz chat. Admittedly, the part was fleeting. "Blink and you'll miss me," he'd called it.

Yaqub's character, a hapless doctor ("I don't care if people say that's typecasting, there are Asian doctors," he says) was battered by Irvine Welsh’s infamous radge, and Danny Boyle, too.

The director had set up a scenario where the actor had seen very little script, instead being told to act concerned for a seriously ill patient.

“I’d no idea what he was going to do and then the next minute – boof! He hit me right in the chest and I fell back. I didn’t know it was coming. He said to me, ‘Good. But make a bit more of it next time'."

Yaqub had no idea whether he’d made the cut until he watched the film in a Glasgow cinema. He had, and for several weeks afterwards, people – even clients at work – were clocking him again.

Yet seven months on, even with a host of parts under his belt and several more to come, he’s making no grand claims.

“Ken Loach gave me sound advice," says Yaqub. "He told me to keep doing what I was doing, which was working with young people, because he could see I was passionate about that, and cared about it.”

The socialist director was on to something there, and it wasn’t just the model's screen presence. Even while exiled in London, Yaqub sought work with asylum-seeking youths, and today it’s this work that is undoubtedly his principal driver (even if he doesn’t give a direct answer when asked what he’d do if The Big One came along).

Until recently, he worked with The Prince’s Trust’s Mosaic programme, a mentoring project designed to increase engagement with black and minority ethnic groups, which saw him recruit volunteers to work in schools across Glasgow, promoting extra-curricular integration and cross-cultural learning.

As part of the job, he could be found in school classrooms across the city holding grassroots workshops often with Muslim youths to facilitate engagement and identify visible positive role models, helping them hone presentation and public speaking skills.

“Honestly, that’s what I’m all about,” he says, his beaming enthusiasm barely contained by Princes Square’s glass atrium. “I love that part of my work, promoting integration. But more needs to be done.”

Now elevated to education manager of The Prince’s Trust, he is responsible for running a variety of similar youth-focused programmes, including Mosaic.

Having grown up in the Muslim faith in Glasgow, and engaging with younger generations of Muslims in mixed faith schools, Yaqub is a key barometer in measuring any change in social attitudes in these Trumped-up times.

“In Scotland we are lucky,” he says. “Scotland’s the kind of place you want to live and bring up your children. Yes I have friends who have encountered Islamophobia because of things that have happened throughout the world, I’m not going to deny that. But there are narrow-minded people in all communities. You can’t tarnish everyone. The landscape in Scotland compared to some ghettoised places in England is very different.

“I was at an excellent launch of a report at the Scottish Parliament about Muslims in Scotland which said that things were different here.

“We don’t have Muslim communities that are infiltrated or sucked in by these things [extremism] because we are spread so widely and we have leaders who are very open in terms of explaining what the religion is. For me that’s promising. I have seen people trying to get more educated in their religion, and put positive messages across with things like Islam awareness week so that people learn about what Islam is really about and not what they hear about in the media.

“In the work I do, people are open to listening and understanding what faith is, and I want to be working with those kind of people. They know that Muslims are just part of that mix."

With Ae Fond Kiss, he adds, "Ken Loach told a story where a guy who was Muslim fell in love with a girl who was Catholic. And these things happen. We can encourage more of that understanding, those relationships and views and I try to surround myself with people who think that way”.

Back in February, Atta told me of the pain he felt as a Muslim at a time when an American president could conceive of an anti-Muslim travel ban.

“It's like going back to days of old when blacks and Jewish people were persecuted and women’s rights weren’t considered, and that's frightening," he said, months before Sean Spicer was making comedy cameos at the Emmys and Charlottesville, and the President’s response to it, were yet to happen. “It’s so important to show Muslims positively, but it’s heartbreaking to see how those in power want certain things that affect a certain minority. There has been a specific backlash against Muslims since Trump.”

Months on, he now confesses to harbouring fears over Brexit Britain and the possibility of extreme consequences emanating from the White House.

“It frightens me that Brexit is happening and Trump is in,” he says. “But we have to get on with it and deal with the consequences.

“Who knows what will happen. You worry that there are groups of people out there who will only back away once something goes terribly, terribly wrong.

“I’m glad that in Scotland we have a bit of control over how we decide things. We’re diverse, with leaders from diverse backgrounds.”

Aside from acting and guiding the Muslim youth of the city, Yaqub is also a football coach. He'd established Glasgow Ansar by 2001, and is now probably the only Scottish actor who has a C licence in coaching from the SFA, although many of our footballers regularly display their acting credentials, too. While progress has been made on promoting diversity in the game, he knows there's more to be done.

In a profession strewn with stories of could-have-been casualties, Yaqub’s dual focus puts him in a robust position, rebuilding both fractured communities and his acting career.

There have been small parts in BBC Scotland dramas River City and Lip Service. Trainspotting helped him land a part in Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan’s Highland movie Tupperware Party, as well as recent BBC medical drama Trust Me.

There’s also a role in upcoming crime drama Isolani with Real Hustle star R Paul Williams, produced by footballer Kris Commons's wife Lisa Hague, and a part in the Glasgow-set Country Music film, starring Julie Walters, which was shot around the city during the summer.

His private life has flourished, too. Yaqub married his teacher girlfriend Sabeen earlier this year."She told me not to talk about it," he says, smiling. "But it's great. We've been really happy."

As for his career, if it were a play, it feels like we're about to enter the third act.

"Before Ae Fond Kiss I would never have considered acting," he says. "It's given me an opportunity and I still feel very lucky to be able to look back to my time working with Ken Loach.

"But one thing I've realised since then is that I'll always learn and develop. Doing different things in life will make me a better actor.

“Not being trained has helped me in some ways, but hindered me in others. I have total respect for people who go to drama school, but that’s not been my pathway.

“I was fortunate in that Ken Loach looked for something I had at the time, and that’s what he got. That's something that can be nurtured. It depends what you want from it. It depends where you’ve come from and what you want to achieve.”

Whatever Atta Yaqub wants to achieve, don’t count on it all being in front of a camera.