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Sporting Lisbon sign 2004 tsunami survivor Martunis, inspired by Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo helped Martunis get back on his feet after the disaster.

Sporting Lisbon have signed a 17-year-old Indonesian player who survived the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 and was inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Martunis was just seven years old when his mother and two siblings were killed by the wave that hit the northern Indonesian region of Banda Aceh and killed over 230,000 people.

The youngster was stranded on a beach for 21 days but survived by holding onto a sofa and hit headlines in Portugal after he was found wearing the shirt of the national team with Rui Costa's name on the back.

At the time, he said: "I was not afraid at all because I wanted to be alive to meet my family and become a football player."

Inspired by his story, the Portuguese FA donated €40,000 to help rebuild Martunis' house and, in 2005, Cristiano Ronaldo travelled to Aceh to visit him, promised to pay for his education and invited him to visit Sporting Lisbon's ground.

"I believe that many adults would not even be able to deal with what he has gone through," Ronaldo said at the time. "We must respect him. His was an act of strength and maturity. He's a special kid."

Martunis triggered an outpouring of aid from Portuguese football officials and players after he was found.

Sporting have now offered him the chance to play at their youth academy in Alcochete -- where Ronaldo began his own career before moving to Manchester United and then Real Madrid.

"It's great to be here, this club makes my dream possible," Martunis said at his presentation. "I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. Viva Sporting!"

"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 added. "Helping to make dreams come true and others to live decent lives honours the mission of the club and its place in society."


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