A young Afghan boy who wore a Lionel Messi jersey made from a plastic bag had an authentic one sent to him by the Barcelona soccer star, who personally signed it, as well.
A 5-year-old Afghan boy became an instant internet sensation when photos showing him playing soccer in a Number 10 jersey, made famous by Lionel Messi, that was clearly fashioned out of a stripped plastic bag that closely resembled the jersey that Messi wears. Though the boy was blissfully unaware, the world had taken a shine to the youngster’s enthusiasm. Unknown to him, people the world over had begun to adore the kid, and the power of internet helped the little boy’s aspirations come true.
— UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) February 25, 2016
Murtaza Ahmadi, a boy of just five years and living in Afghanistan, is now a proud owner of a real Messi shirt, thanks to the soccer superstar and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The little kid’s only regret is that Messi wasn’t there to personally gift him the jersey, but apart from a small remorse, the kid is obviously on cloud nine over the thoughtful gift. Among the gifts were two autographed shirts and a signed football from the iconic player by UNICEF workers, reported CNN. Speaking about the occasion, the Afghan boy’s father Arif Ahmadi said the following.
“It is one of the happiest moments of the five-year-old’s life. His only regret is that Messi was not able to have been there. However, unfazed by that, Murtaza has been wearing one of the shirts and playing with the football ever since the gifts arrived. I feel very happy that he is famous now. He is really excited that his pictures are everywhere now. He wants to become a football player in the future, and go to school.”
UNICEF Afghanistan met with the boy to deliver the gift. Thanking them, Murtaza said the following.
“I love Messi — I love him very much. I love Messi, and my shirt says Messi loves me.”
Murtaza, who hails from the Jaghori District in Ghazni, a province in Kabul that lies in eastern Afghanistan, was seen in photos and a video published last month wearing his plastic bag jersey and kicking a blue and yellow ball around, reported News Week.
The plastic bag with blue and white stripes resembled Messi’s jersey. To complete the look, the bag also had Messi’s number, 10, and his last name was penned on the jersey.
A kid in Iraq ????.. pic.twitter.com/ZfOEpUCNvw
— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) January 16, 2016
The photos and videos quickly went viral owing to the happy child who sought happiness even under rather bleak conditions. The original video has Murtaza’s father, Arif, confessing that his son is a huge fan of soccer and among the players, he worships Lionel Messi. Arif says his son “says Messi’s name daily” and insisted that he find a real shirt with Messi’s name on it. The father said Murtaza’s brother made his the plastic bag jersey after confessing to the little boy about the poor financial health of the city and its far flung location, which made it impossible to buy a jersey.
“He kept crying for days, asking for the shirt, until his brother Hamayon helped him make one from the plastic bag to make him happy. He stopped crying after wearing that plastic bag shirt.”
Soccer is quite popular in Afghanistan, since it is one of the few games that do not require a lot of equipment, and the game can be played on any open or barren land. The worn-torn country has plenty of open spaces, and soccer has become a national pastime. Murtaza’s father added that it was his dream to have a decent football stadium in their district, but admitted it was a tall order.
[Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP Images]