Misaki Murakami's football
Misaki Murakami's football found on remote Alaskan island months after being swept away by 2011 Japanese tsunami

A Japanese teenager whose football was swept away by the devastating tsunami off Japan in 2011 is over the moon after his prized possession turned up in Alaska.

Misaki Murakami's football, which had the youngster's name inscribed on it, was found on a remote Alaskan island more than 3,000 miles a year after it was lost at sea.

David Baxter, who found the 16-year-old's football on Middleton Island, and his Japanese wife Yumi was able to translate the name and messages of encouragement written on it to find out who it belonged to.

"When I first saw the soccer ball I was excited to see it and I thought it was possible it came from the tsunami zone," Baxter told Associated Press

After contacting Murakami with the help of a Japanese reporter, the couple are planning a trip to Japan in May to return the football in person to its rightful owner.

Murakami from the town of Rikuzentakata told the Japanese broadcaster NHK Media that he was surprised and happy by the find.

He said: "It was a big surprise. I've never imagined that my ball has reached Alaska. I've lost everything in the tsunami so I'm delighted."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ball is one of the first pieces of debris from last year's tsunami to wash up on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Murakami was one of the thousands of people who lost everything in the 11 March 11 which hit Japan's northeastern coast and killed about 19,000 people.

The ball was given to him in 2005 as a goodbye gift when he transferred to another school.