In 2004 a massive earthquake under the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami. The Indonesian city of Banda Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, was closest to the epicentre, and was devastated by the huge wave.
It was the moment when Martunis, the eight years old boy, was found alive, stranded in a swampy area near the beach, 21 days after a giant tsunami hit and devastated Indonesia’s northern province.
The young boy’s miraculous survival was beamed to a world, not only because of his nearly unbelievable experience, but also because he was wearing a replica of Portugal national team jersey which attracted the attention of football star like Cristiano Ronaldo.
Such a blessing in disguise, his life changed. Touched by this poignant tragedy, and the reference to Portuguese football, (former Portugal coach) Luiz Felipe Scolari bought Martunis and family a house in Indonesia on behalf of the team.
Ronaldo invited young Martunis to Lisbon in 2005
Martunis’ two times encounter with Ronaldo have later inspired him to chase a dream of one day being a professional footballer, attending English classes three times a week and playing football everyday at soccer school in Banda Aceh, which was built by the Real Madrid foundation.
“My favourite hobby is playing football,” he said, three years on after the disaster. “I don’t like other sports. It’s fun. My grandfather was a footballer. I want to be a footballer when I grow up.”
When he turned 17 in October last year, he joined a selection to be chosen for the Indonesian youth national team and passed the first stage, but failed at the second.
However, it didn’t not make him to stop in pursuing his biggest ambition. The Tibang-born teenager continued to play football with his friends and believes that kind of determination will get him into professional world as long as he fights for it and perseveres.
His work hard was paid off in this early week, when he received a trial invitation from an unnamed club academy in Portugal – which is believed from Sporting Lisbon. Now, Martunis has an opportunity to fulfill his dream.
“My biggest dream is to become a professional footballer, hopefully someday I could have my football career in the Portuguese league,” he revealed.