Brazilian club Botafogo Futebol Clubе have signed teenage striker Nykodah Smith from the PS4 NPL in Queensland with former Caltex Socceroos coach Rale Rasic describing Smith as a potential "next Mark Viduka".
It's a stunning move for the 17-year-old forward from South West Queensland Thunder FC, who will link with the Brazilian outfit after impressing on a three-week trial earlier this year at the club’s football academy in Ribeirão Preto, outside São Paulo.
He will travel to Brazil as soon as paperwork on the transfer is finalised with a view as a potential member of the club’s first team.
Smith, originally from Bundaberg, joined Thunder in 2014. He quickly advanced from the club’s junior ranks to the senior set-up – scoring four goals in 19 appearances in the national second tier.
NPL is a state-based league sitting below Australia's elite national competition, the Hyundai A-League.
Smith said he was excited about the opportunity to take his skills to Brazil and to play at the club’s Estádio Santa Cruz, which has a capacity of 50,000.
“It’s definitely a journey of a lifetime. It’s a new beginning and a new culture I’m going to, because in Brazil everything is passionate," he said.
“To think that a small boy from Bundaberg could be signed by a Brazilian professional club is unreal.
“It’s like a dream come true. There’s no words to explain how happy I am."
Thiago Kosloski, head of Botafogo Football Academy, said Smith impressed him and other coaches at the club instantly upon his arrival earlier this year in trial matches.
“He trained extremely well with players much older than him, and was still able to both score goals and have very important part to play in the team,” Kosloski said.
The opportunity to trial with Botafogo was a result of the promotional efforts of legendary 1974 World Cup Socceroos coach Rale Rasic – who maintains close ties with Thunder coach Chris McLeod.
Rasic said he happily staked his reputation on Smith’s qualities of strength, pace and finishing as he sought to get him viewed by coaches around the world.
“This could be the new Mark Viduka, he has such a big presence on the field,” Rasic said.
“Special players can come from anywhere. I am a believer in small towns like Bundaberg and Toowoomba for finding talent.”
Smith previously trialled for German powerhouse Kaiserslautern and with current Hyundai A-League league-leaders Brisbane Roar.
SWQ Thunder are currently enjoying their best PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues season in their short history and are eighth in the league standings with two wins from their opening five matches.
Botafogo are currently competing in the top tier of the highly Sao Paulo state championship before commencing their national third tier Serie C campaign in May.