Afghan child who made a homemade football t-shirt to meet hero
Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi, who lives in the Afghan province of Ghazni, has had his image shared across the world, and is now set to meet his footballing hero, Lionel Messi.
Fans across the globe were moved by the image of the young boy wearing a homemade ‘Messi 10’ shirt made out of a plastic bag.
Murtaza’s brother used a blue-and-white striped bag to recreate Messi’s Argentina jersey and wrote ‘Messi’ and the number 10 on the back. The image quickly became viral online.
The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) have revealed that Messi’s management have been in touch, and are keen to arrange a meeting between the pair.
An AFF spokesman told Al Jazeera: “We’ve been contacted by Messi’s management team and they have expressed their interest in meeting the boy.
“We are doing our best to coordinate their meeting. The date and the venue is still not confirmed yet, but there are chances of [Murtaza] flying to Spain to meet his idol.”
Murtaza’s brother, Homayoun told Al Jazeera: “Murtaza found a plastic bag and ran towards me asking me to make a jersey out of it for him.
“We can’t even imagine buying the original Messi jersey. We just can’t afford it so, to make my brother happy, I made a shirt out of that plastic bag for him.”
His father added: “We did not expect that we would get this kind of support from everyone.
“People from all over the world have been calling me to help get Murtaza a jersey and a football.
“Murtaza can’t hold it. He is so excited by the news of meeting Messi. We don’t know when it is going to happen, but we are humbled by the response we got.”
Murtaza’s father, a poor farmer in Ghazni’s Jaghori district, added that Murtaza only had a punctured ball to play with.
Little Murtaza is currently training with the AFF ahead of the meeting – in a full Messi kit, of course – and he could well be set for a future in the game.
“The passion that Murtaza carries for football, we will do everything in our capacity to train him to be a part of our Afghanistan football team,” said the AFF.
Afghanistan is one of the lowest ranked countries in the world, according to the UN’s Human Development Index.
Roughly three-quarters of the population live in poverty. The country has struggled to rebuild in the wake of the US-led invasion that removed the Taliban.