This is a story of extreme courage and bravery. This is a tale of defying all the odds and surviving under harsh conditions. This is the tale of Martunis, a brave young man who went through hell and high water but was able to make it out alive.
On Boxing Day 2004, a disaster struck Indonesia. A massive number of 230,000 people from across fourteen countries were killed by the giant waves caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The cruel waves also left Martunis to live off some noodles he had found and water from puddles, aside from being separated from his family.
Eleven years after the disaster claimed the lives of his mother and two brothers and forced him to survive on little to no resources at all for twenty-one days, Sporting Lisbon signed Martunis, a tsunami survivor, to their academy.
The Portuguese capital unveiled that Martunis, now 17, pursued his dream despite of the devastation brought by the disaster. You can see him (above) proudly wearing his new club suit, after fulfilling his dream by getting signed with Sporting Lisbon.
Sitting calmly, Martunis is pictured sitting on a bench in the place where he could be playing in the near future.
Next season, the youngster could be playing for their under 19s category, and he will also be placed in Sporting’s academy.
After the disaster, Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid star, was inspired by Martunis’s story and decided to meet with him.
Martunis is now a part of Sporting’s famous academy that developed now famous talents talents like Ronaldo and Martunis’s own hero, Luis Figo.
“I believe that many adults would not even be able to deal with what he has gone through,” Ronaldo said at the time.
“Martunis will work at the academy. We will work with him also in his development as a human being and as a man,” Sporting president, Bruno de Carvalho, said.
“It’s great to be here, this club makes my dream possible. I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. Viva Sporting!” he said at his presentation.
Banda Aceh, Indonesia, was the place where Martunis grew up. He went to a soccer school in his home city in pursuit of his dream career and attended English classes three times a week.
When the 9.3 magnitude earthquake struck, Portuguesse star Ronaldo was playing football, that’s why he was only able to meet with Martunis in the aftermath of the disaster.
Martunis was pictured with Sepp Blatter and Ronaldo after his story reached every corner of the globe and inspired many.
Looking up at the World Cup as it made a tour around the world in March 2006, you can see the ambitions in the eyes of the young Indonesian survivor.
Pictured with the youngster in a new Portugal shirt in 2005 is the late Portuguese legend Eusebio.
Surviving for three weeks, Martunis was found in a Portugal shirt on the beaches of Banda Aceh, all alone.
The huge amount of damage caused to a coastal area of Banda Aceh could be seen in this aerial photo taken two weeks after the disaster.
“We must respect him. His was an act of strength and maturity. He’s a special kid,” people behind the Sporting Lisbon described Martunis.
Martunis was in desperate need of a saline drip due to the dehydration he had suffered, while he was also badly bitten and frail, after the twenty-one-day ordeal he had encountered. This was his state when a group of journalists wandering the beaches of the Indonesian city found him.
According to a member of the Save the Children team who delivered him to a hospital, he would have not survived had he been found a day later.
Though his siblings and mother were among the many casualties in one of the world’s worst natural disasters, Martunis was fortunate enough to be reunited with his father.
Martunis is now on the way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Banda Aceh was hit hard by waves because it was only 150 miles from the 9.3 magnitude earthquake’s epicenter.
With money sent by the Portuguese FA and raised by Ronaldo’s fundraising efforts before he met his hero three years later, the seven-year-old’s home was successfully rebuilt.
Martunis said that the move to Sporting is the next step on the path of making his dreams come true and becoming a professional footballer.
“My favourite hobby is playing football. I don’t like other sports. It’s fun. My grandfather was a footballer. I want to be a footballer when I grow up,” Martunis said in 2008.
Sporting academy’s most famous products are Portuguese icon Luis Figo and the famous Ronaldo.
Before moving to Old Trafford, Manchester United winger Nani, also came up through the ranks at Sporting.
“I let him play football in the afternoon. I ask him to go to school, learn to read the Koran and attend an English course. I want him to be a clever boy with a bright future. I don’t want him to end up like me who did not have a proper education. I hope he gets a good job in the future. I will be very proud if he enjoys a good life or becomes a professional footballer,” his father, Sarbini, said.