SINGAPORE - Mahathir Azeman is 17 years old and can already speak a smattering of Portuguese.
I wonder if Hariss Harun ever will.
Last Wednesday night, the Singapore Under-18 footballer was a guest of the Brazilian ambassador to Singapore, Luis Fernando de Andrade Serra, at a party to celebrate the South American nation's independence day at Shangri-La Hotel.
Mahathir returned home on Monday after a five-month stint at Boavista, a professional football club based in rio de Janeiro.
Training and playing in the Under- 17s under the watchful eyes of coaches like former Dutch star Clarence Seedorf, he impressed enough to earn a one-year contract to play for Boavista's reserves, the team below the club's senior professional side.
He will complete his O Levels next month before returning to Boavista, probably in December.
While Singapore's most talented midfielder Hariss, 23, recently rejected the chance to join top-flight Portuguese side rio Ave in a shock decision, Mahathir continues to pursue his dream of playing professional football in a worldclass arena.
The young attacking midfielder is clearly developing as a footballer. He now wears the No. 10 at Boavista.