Eleven years ago, a 6-year-old football fan named Martunis was fighting for survival when the 2004 tsunami hit northern Sumatra. It was a time when dreams were not only something children innocently held – they were necessary.
Now at 17, the dream has come true. Martinus has signed for Sporting Lisbon – The club where Cristiano Ronaldo began his career.
Here’s the remarkable story of the tsunami survivor turned professional footballer…
For 3 weeks after the Tsunami that took the lives of over 200,000 people, Martinus was lost to his family. He struggled on, living off Indo Mie and murky puddle water. Finally, he was reunited with his father and grandfather, only to find out that his mother and two siblings were amongst those who perished.
Amongst the ruins of Aceh, he was photographed wearing a Portugal shirt, prompting the Portuguese FA to get involved. They donated €40,000 to help rebuild his family home.
The year after he was rescued, Cristiano Ronaldo – who has a longstanding connection with, and affection for, Indonesia – paid Martunis a visit. Ronaldo not only pledged to pay for his education but used his contacts at his former club to extend an invite to Sporting Lisbon’s training ground.
The rest is history!
Obviously impressed with what they saw, the relationship was ongoing and now Martunis has been offered the chance of a lifetime, singing on with Sporting’s under-19s.
Now 17, Martunis will join the club’s under-19 team, completing a quite remarkable journey.
Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho confirmed: “Martunis will work at the Academy. We will work with him also in his development as a human being and as a man. Helping to make dreams come true and others to live decent lives honours the mission of the club and its place in society.”
Though the journey is far from over.
WowShack wishes the boy all the best and hope his story can inspire a new generation of Indonesian footballers to make the step up to the big leagues of Europe!