The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award nominee: Nur Adam Abdullah
NFA U-15 coach Servais says he has to watch out for Adam's tackles in training because he never eases up
Tenacity and a never-say-die attitude.
Those attributes are what set National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15 defender Nur Adam Abdullah apart from his peers.
They are also why the 15-year-old centre back is among the six shortlisted for this year's TNP-Dollah Kassim Award, which recognises local players aged 18 or below who have excelled on the pitch and shown exemplary values off it.
NFA U-15 coach Robbie Servais told The New Paper: "Adam has a mentality that is rare in Singaporean players, especially at his age.
"He treats training sessions as though they are matches and has a true winner's mentality."
Perhaps what best encapsulates Adam's tenacity is how he bounced back from a broken leg two years ago.
In June 2014, while he was a student-athlete at the Singapore Sports School, he fractured his shin in a match.
The injury came as a huge blow for Adam, who was hoping to be among the three players selected for a training attachment at Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga early last year.
But the injury only strengthened his resolve.
"I was out for six months because of my leg, and I thought it was impossible for me to get back to my peak quick enough to be selected," he admitted.
"But I kept working hard and believing in myself, and kept telling myself I could make it for the trip.
"In the end, I was picked as one the three to go for the trip. It was unbelievable."
Dutchman Servais, who previously coached in Japan for six years for J-League teams Vissel Kobe and Omiya Ardija, first arrived in Singapore in early 2015, taking charge of the NFA U-14 team Adam was in.
Said the coach: "When I arrived, he was close to recovering from injury, but from what I saw, he didn't have any fear.
"Even though he broke his leg before, he still committed himself to every tackle and went in hard during challenges.
"In fact, sometimes when I join the boys in games during training, I have to be careful because he gives it hard, even to me!"
Adam smiles sheepishly when asked about why his aggressive style.
"In my free time, I find videos of my idols, Sergio Ramos and Safuwan Baharudin, to watch how they play," he said.
"I watch how they defend, and try to follow."
Adam said he hopes to play for the national team, and earn a contract overseas, like Safuwan did with Melbourne City last year.
His parents said he had always shown talent in football, even as a young child.
Said his mother, early educator Siti Faridah Ibrahim: "We all had this feeling from when he was young that he could go far.
"When he was little, his grandmother always said he eats, breathes and sleeps football.
"Initially, we were not so keen on him playing football because of its physicality, but after a while we realised this is something he really wants.
"And we still see it now, because he always gives of his best whenever he's out on the pitch."
"Sometimes when I join the boys in games during training, I have to be careful because he gives it hard, even to me!"
- National Football Academy Under-15 coach Robbie Servais on Nur Adam Abdullah