Tsunami 2004: A 9-yr-old Acehnese boy called Martunis, was swept a mile away from his home by an onslaught of massive waves that hit the region, which eventually was triggered by an earthquake. For 19 lonely days, he survived on wild berries, dried noodles and water from rain puddles. When found he was badly bitten by mosquitos and was dehydrated. He had lost his mother and brothers to the waves. Martunis was wearing a No. 7 Portuguese football jersey throughout this nightmare.
As his story broke out, it caught the interest of then Portugal manager – Luiz Felipe Scolari who managed to have Cristiano Ronaldo (then with Manchester United) stop over at Banda Aceh while returning back from the club’s far-east pre-season trip. He spent some personal time with him and eventually handed him a jersey with his name on the back. The Portuguese FA had also offered to build the family’s home via a €70,000 donation.
Ronaldo, in his own words, referring to his meeting with Martunis in 2004, said “He is so shy he hardly said a word. I showed him my mobile phone. He had never seen one before and he immediately asked for my number. Then we had a go on my Playstation. And when I opened my computer and showed him pictures of me and also some video games his eyes were glittering with excitement because he had never seen so many novelties before. He is a very brave, very special boy who has been through and experience that many adults would not be able to cope with.”
Martunis at age 9 had gone through situation that many of us would not survive through. Ronaldo had financed his education since then with both of them being reunited in 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.
This side of Ronaldo does not get covered in mainstream, as incidents which portray him as arrogant or smug, makes for more ad sales.
This is one of the many positive gestures of the Real Madrid’s Portuguese star. There are countless instances where he has proven himself to be a good guy, without the need to blatantly talk about it.
In 2012, 9-year-old Nuhazet Guillen from Las Palmas was diagnosed with spinal metastases with doctors showing no optimism on his chances of survival. In an attempt to make one his dreams come true, his father took him to a home game at Santiago Bernabéu where the boy was surprised with a visit from the man himself.
His parents later explained their son’s chances of survival relied on a private treatment, which they could not afford. Ronaldo via his agent, Jorge Mendez, stepped in to cover the expenses of Nuhazet’s treatment at the esteemed Hospital Montepríncipe in Madrid. Sadly Nuhazet lost his battle against the disease last year.
Last year, during a pre-season game against Bournemouth, Ronaldo lined up his normal stance for a freekick six minutes into the game. Though it did not result in a goal, it did result on 11-year-old Charlie Silverwood breaking his arm. The ball was struck at full power from 35 yards eventually dipping over the goal and smashed him on his left arm.
He was rewarded for his bravery with a call from the Real Madrid president telling him that a signed Ronaldo shirt was on its way and would be delivered by Bournemouth legend Steven Fletcher.
Earlier in the year, the family of 10-month-old Erik Ortiz Cruz, who suffers from cortical dysplasia, had desperately tried raising money for his treatment. They finally decided to approach Ronaldo to see if he could donate a football shirt and boots to a charity auction to raise funds for Erik’s surgery.
Instead, he offered to pay for the entire cost of the surgery totaling £50,000 and a series of further treatments at £5,000 each. Fortunately for Erik, the day has not come yet as to relying on Ronaldo for the financial help relating to the surgery.
Regionally, the Portuguese is reported (a lot more falsely) at various occasions of donating his boots to a children’s charity in Gaza via the Real Madrid foundation. The bidding for the shoes started at €700 selling at €2,400. There were also unconfirmed reports of him donating his Golden boot similarly raising €1.5 million which in turn were used to fund the schools in Gaza.
Furthermore, as the world sees the idea of athletes expressing their emotions/thoughts through some sort of art on the body, as normal, Cristiano Ronaldo, as one of the top athletes globally recognized, is known for not having any. The reason being he donates blood twice a year and does not want to affect that.
As mentioned, these are only a handful of his positive gestures that had been recorded throughout the years. Of course, it is no different than anyone else who would find themselves in a similar situation. But in Ronaldo’s, case any act of humanity will always shadow the overall negative public image he currently carries on his shoulder.
We often forget that athletes are human and we focus on the financial remuneration paid for their performances regardless of relationship status. Fortunately, Ronaldo has never shied away from his humanity. I for one would love to hear more about these events, quite often. As, I am sure, would the general football population.