When he first arrived to play for Home United's Prime League side as an 18-year-old in December 2011, South Korean Song Ui Young's poor grasp of English made it a struggle to communicate with his team-mates and hampered his progress on the pitch.
But he refused to be deterred, taking online English lessons and the midfielder is now comfortable as the S-League team's on-field leader, directing the side's chase for the league title.
Home are second in the table with 29 points, two behind defending champions Albirex Niigata.
The change in Song's confidence has been noticeable, said Home's veteran defender Juma'at Jantan.
The 33-year-old recalled: "I would speak to him but only receive a nod or okay in response, nothing more. He has no problems (speaking) now and is a commanding presence for us."
Juma'at is not Song's only fan. National coach V. Sundram Moorthy is another and has earmarked the Incheon native for the Football Association of Singapore's Foreign Talent Scheme (FTS) to boost the Lions. The other two candidates are Canadian Jordan Webb (Warriors FC) and Frenchman Sirina Camara (Home).
The thought of donning the Singapore jersey excites Song, who won the 2013 Singapore Cup with Home.
There are good and young players in the national team like Adam Swandi and Irfan (Fandi). I would love to help them out as I am young and I'll definitely get better.
SONG UI YOUNG, Home United midfielder, on his ambition to play for the Singapore national team.
He said: "I know it is not easy to get this honour but I know that I am capable of helping the national team."
The 23-year-old has impressed with his versatility, his ability to play in defence and midfield, and his range of passing. He scored six goals and made five assists last season. This campaign, he has already scored five times and has played a key role in Home's run into the AFC Cup Asean Zone final.
The Protectors' coach Aidil Sharin believes Song, who has also been named captain on several occasions, has plenty to offer.
He said: "Song is a complete player - both in attack and defensively. He is even getting better now; a lot more wise when making decisions on the pitch.
"He's young and he knows the system as well as the national players, so he can gel easily with them if he becomes a national player."
The chance to play on the international stage seemed like a distant dream when Song arrived at Bishan Stadium six years ago.
The Yeouido High School student had caught the eye of his compatriot and then Home coach Lee Lim Saeng and was persuaded to move to a new country to chase his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
But an ankle injury in pre-season meant he was out for a few months and made his debut for Home only in July 2012.
"I thought of going back to Korea many times," he said.
A two-room apartment in Yio Chu Kang is now home to Song, who counts Juma'at and team manager Badri Ghent among his closest friends.
While the process to become a naturalised citizen under the FTS will take some time, Song's excitement is apparent. He said: "There are good and young players in the national team like Adam Swandi and Irfan (Fandi). I would love to help them out as I am young and I'll definitely get better."