Tsunami survivor joins Sporting's academy

Martunis (centre) gets a chance to hone his skills at Sporting Lisbon, which was where Ronaldo started his career. Ronaldo, then with Manchester United, meeting seven-year-old Martunis, who spent 19 days after the tsunami all by himself.
Martunis (centre) gets a chance to hone his skills at Sporting Lisbon, which was where Ronaldo started his career.PHOTOS: TWITTER/ SPORTING LISBON CLUB
Ronaldo, then with Manchester United, meeting seven-year-old Martunis, who spent 19 days after the tsunami all by himself.
Ronaldo, then with Manchester United, meeting seven-year-old Martunis, who spent 19 days after the tsunami all by himself.PHOTO: MACMILLAN

LISBON • A young Indonesian boy found wearing a Portugal national football team jersey nearly three weeks after his home was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami has joined Sporting Lisbon's academy.

Martunis, now 17, survived for nearly three weeks on dried noodles and puddle water before he was found, rescued and reunited with his father and grandfather.

The tsunami killed more than 220,000 people who were living along the coasts of countries that bordered the Indian Ocean.

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 superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who began his career at Sporting, later flew 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.

Martunis said on the club's website: "I am very happy to have joined Sporting."

Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho said: "Martunis is the new recruit for the Sporting academy, where he will live, study and grow as a man and footballer."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline 'Tsunami survivor joins Sporting's academy'. Print Edition | Subscribe