He tried his best but when the moment came, Muhelmy Suhaimi just couldn't fight back the tears.
As he was unveiled as the winner of this year's The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award yesterday morning, the national Under-18 midfielder sank to his knees and kissed the stage.
Then, the waterworks started. And boy, they would not stop.
Eventually helped up to his feet by the other nominees, Muhelmy was still shaking as he received the award from Ezaad Abdullah, son of late Singapore football legend Dollah, at Jurongville Secondary School.
In winning the award, Muhelmy also bagged the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence, which comes with an overseas training stint at a prestigious football club.
Muhelmy said: "I (sank to the ground because I) wanted to thank God.
"At the same time, my legs suddenly became shaky.
"I don't know why I couldn't control myself... I just got overcome with emotion."
He explained his tearful reaction was because he was overjoyed that he had done his mum, Sarina Durimi, proud.
Muhelmy's parents are divorced, and Sarina works at a food stall in a staff canteen to support the family.
He said: "My mum is the sole breadwinner of our family and her job is not easy.
"She has sacrificed a lot for me and my brother (Muhaimin, a national Under-23 striker).
"It means a lot to me to make her proud. This (win) is for her."
The 18-year-old added he was extremely tense as he stood alongside the five other nominees for this year's award - Danish Irfan Azman, 15, Rusyaidi Salime and Nonis Zephen-Sean Anthony, both 16, and Lionel Tan and Nasrul Taib, both 17 - just before TNP associate editor Leonard Thomas announced the winner.
Said Muhelmy: "I was thinking, 'This is it, this is my chance to shine'.
"Either I get the opportunity to train overseas, or stay here in Singapore.
"And I really didn't expect to win because I feel the other nominees are better than me.
"Now, whichever club I get to train at, I hope I can impress the coaches there and earn a contract.
"That's my dream."
Ezaad hopes that Muhelmy can follow in his father's footsteps one day.
He said: "You could see from the reception Muhelmy got that he is very deserving of the award.
"My only advice to him would be to play with his heart, and I wish him success in his career in the future.
"I hope he can bring glory to our country one day."
Doris Ho, head of public affairs for Singapore Pools, said: "Our passion for the beautiful game comes through again in this award to give our young football talents a boost in their journey to become professional players.
"Singapore Pools is happy to support this initiative for five years running. We hope Muhelmy will continue to give of his best both on and off the pitch."
The Dollah Kassim Award was initiated by TNP in partnership with Singapore Pools and the FAS in 2010.
It recognises footballing excellence and character, both of which the late Dollah had in abundance. Dollah, a Malaysia Cup legend, died at the age of 61 in 2010.
Previous winners Ammirul Emmran Mazlan (2010) and Adam Swandi (2011) spent two weeks with English Premier League side Newcastle United learning and developing their trade.
R Aaravin (2012) and last year's winner Hazim Faiz spent 10 days with French club FC Metz.
This article was first published on Dec 14, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.