He showed courage and determination when he left behind his family, friends and familiar surroundings in search of a professional career in Brazil six months ago.
Driven by his dream, Mahathir Azeman buckled down and impressed enough at Brazilian side Boavista SC to earn a year-long contract with the club's reserve team in 2014.
The 17-year-old has embraced life in Rio, and is maturing fast, although he claims he remains shy when it comes to girls.
"One thing a lot of people don't know about me is that I'm actually very shy," he told The New Paper recently.
"Over in Brazil, I talk because I have to make friends. But usually I'm quite quiet and I don't talk to girls, especially, because I get uncomfortable... I find it hard to talk to them."
Mahathir - who is one of eight nominees for this year's The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award - prefers to do his talking with his feet.
He rose to prominence as part of Dejan Gluscevic's national youth team who impressed in the Canon Lion City Cup in 2011 and 2012.
The youngster showed his versatility, playing as a fullback, defensive and attacking midfielder (his favoured position), and even as a striker.