Football: Tsunami survivor signs for Sporting Lisbon

LISBON (AFP/REUTERS) - An Indonesian teenager who was found alive wearing a Portugal shirt after the devastating tsunami of December 2004 has signed for Sporting Lisbon.

Martunis, 17, will join the Sporting academy that reared the talents of Ronaldo at the start of the last decade.

The club announced on Wednesday evening: "Martunis is the new recruit for the Sporting academy, where he will live, study and grow as a man and footballer."

It was a dream come true, added the teenager, who is known simply by his first name.

"I am very pleased to be at Sporting, who have granted me my dream."

Martunis was found in the region of Aceh, in the north of the island of Sumatra, three weeks after the tsunami that killed more than 220,000 along the coasts of countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

He survived for nearly three weeks on dried noodles and puddle water before he was found, rescued and reunited with his father and grandfather.

His plight drew attention around the world and he was flown over to meet the Portugal team before a match against Slovakia in 2005.

They also helped finance the rebuilding of his home.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, the native of the island of Madeira who joined the Sporting academy as a 12-year-old, later flew out to Indonesia to meet him and, according to media reports, financed his education.

Ronaldo also became an ambassador for a campaign to help save mangrove swamps in the region.

Said Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho: "Martunis will work at the academy. We will work with him also in his development as a human being and as a man."