Lisbon, July 3 (IANS) Martunis, the Indonesian boy who survived the 2004 tsunami and was found wearing the Portuguese national team jersey, has realised his dream by joining football club Sporting Lisbon’s academy.
“Martunis will work at the academy. We will work with him also in his development as a human being and as a man,” Bruno de Carvalho, president of the club, announced during the gala commemorating the 109th anniversary of club’s establishment on Thursday, reports Efe.
Martunis took the stage dressed in the Sporting Lisbon green and white jersey and thanked the club management for giving him the opportunity to play in Portugal.
On December 26, 2004, a tsunami killed more than 225,000 people in Southeast Asia, including Martunis’s sisters and mother.
Martunis was just seven years old when the disaster struck, while he was playing football with his friends wearing the jersey of the Portuguese national team.
Martunis managed to stay alive for 21 days, drinking water from ponds and eating whatever washed up on shore until reporters found him dehydrated on a beach and took him to hospital.
The image of him wearing the shirt of the national team made him an instant celebrity in Portugal, especially after he confessed his love for Sporting Lisbon and his fascination with the country’s footballing star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even Ronaldo tended to Martunis over the years, visiting him several times and contributing to the reconstruction of his house.
Martunis started at the Real Madrid Foundation in his hometown, Banda Aceh in Indonesia.