BLOCKBUSTER film The Terminal became reality for Ghanaian football Randy Juan Muller – after he was stranded in Mumbai airport for 72 DAYS.
Muller, 23, lived in Terminal 2 from March 21 until June 3 after coronavirus cancelled his flight home.
He was finally moved to a hotel after his story gained traction on social media.
Muller relied on the kindness of staff, police and passengers to get by and ate mainly samosas and fried rice to survive.
His incredible tale has drawn comparisons to the character played by Tom Hanks in the hit 2004 movie.
Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who finds himself stranded in JFK airport in New York.
Pro football in India
Muller arrived in India in November to play for ORPC Sports Club in Kerala.
He was trying to return to Ghana via Kenya before India’s Covid-19 lockdown cancelled his flight and left him stuck in the airport.
He told the Mumbai Mirror: “I came here on a six month visa. We only get around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 (£20-£32) per match. I hardly played any matches and had spent around Rs 1.5 lakh (£1,567) for visa and tickets.
“After the lockdown was announced in India, I planned to return home and even bought a flight ticket for March 30 from Mumbai to Ghana via Kenya.
“But before I could return, the government cancelled all international flights and I was stuck here.”
Muller was told to head to the airport by local police after struggling to find accommodation but was never able to board a plane.
Life in The Terminal
The youngster explained what daily life was like living inside an airport terminal during a pandemic.
He added: “I took inspiration from Tom Hanks and ignored everything else, I woke up early, took a shower and walked in the garden.
“The private security staff and house keeping gave me samosas. The CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) guys gave me some money to buy food.
“I was running out of money quickly, as everything is expensive at the airport. So I tried to save money.
“Every day it was the same routine, and I watched the skies and rescue planes, hoping that one day I will fly too.”
The fight to survive
Passengers on rescue flights donated food, money and even books to the footballer who has also played abroad in Abu Dhabi.
He even claimed that one gave him a book entitled “Be Your Own Therapist” which helped him stave off depression.
As temperatures dropped at night, the CISF provided blankets and pillows to help him sleep in different spots around the building.
He spent the majority of the day chatting on his damaged mobile phone to family back home.
He said: “I knew I could not give up. I thought of myself as a soldier and never gave up.
“Every week I thought the lockdown would be lifted but it kept getting longer and longer.”
Eventually, Muller tweeted out for help and his prayers were answered.
He was taken to a hotel in Bandra after the President of Mumbai District Football Association, Aaditya Thackeray, saw the post.
Muller is in touch with the Ghanaian High Commission who have told him a rescue flight will be scheduled soon.
The footballer supports a family of six in Ghana with his earnings and despite his wild tale has not been put off returning to India to play the sport he loves.