Hero: Matunis met Ronaldo following his ordeal

A truly inspiring story of Martunis, who fought death and other obstacles to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Seven-year-old boy, Martunis after the TsunamiFound: Seven-year-old Martunis was found on a beach in Indonesia
Seven-year-old Martunis was found on a beach in Indonesia

Martunis lost his mother and two brothers as the tsunami of 26 December, 2004 went crashing into his family home in Indonesia on Boxing Day in 2004. He was forced by the wrath of nature to survive on a puddle of water for 21 days, Martunis, then just 7 years old survived by living off noodles he found.

A Save the Children team member helped deliver him to hospital. Afterwards, Martunis said that he might not have been found alive if he was out on the streets for just 24 hours longer.

Rescued: The child was rescued to safety by TV crews and charities
Rescued: The child was rescued to safety by TV crews and charities

When the disaster struck, Martunis was playing football on the streets. His character to show amazing struggle, perseverance and an indomitable will to survive during his ordeal became a heart warming after-story of the horrific natural disaster and inspired one of the greatest footballers on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Martunis’ story was so inspiring that it was recognised by Ronaldo. At the time, Ronaldo said: “I believe that many adults would not even be able to deal with what he has gone through. We must respect him. His was an act of strength and maturity. He’s a special kid.”

11 years later, Martunis has realized a lifelong dream by becoming a professional footballer. He has signed a deal to join the world renowned academy at Sporting Lisbon, which has nurtured talents such as Ronaldo and Luis Figo.

Martunis’ dedication towards football never died. After attending school regularly, he used to take part in a weekly soccer skills clash in his home city of Banda Aceh. Speaking back in 2008, he said: “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.”

Future: Martunis will enjoy a positive future developing in Sporting's academy
Future: Martunis will enjoy a positive future developing in Sporting’s academy

And now his dreams have come true.

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