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Afghan boy wearing Messi plastic bag set to meet his idol

Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi wears a full Messi kit under the plastic bag jersey that turned him into an internet sensation (Photo: AFF)
by Sayer Zaland, President - Afghanistan Sports Writers Federation
KABUL, February 3, 2016 - The Afghanistan Football Federation has announced that it will set up a meeting between Lionel Messi and five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi, who became an internet sensation when photos circulated of him wearing an improvised Messi shirt, made from a plastic bag.

Keramuddin Karim, president of Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) has invited Murtaza Ahmadi along with his family to the AFF headquarters. In addition to meeting with Murtaza’s family, President of the AFF will try to set up a meeting between 5-year-old Afghan and the world football star.

The Afghanistan Football Federation is the only organ which leads all football activities in the country, and it leads the country’s football under the supervision of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation. The country’s football federation considers it an obligation to do everything possible in order to fulfill and realize young Murtaza’s wishes to meet his idol.

The Afghanistan Football Federation has already established communication with the relevant authorities, including the Spanish embassy in Kabul, and the meeting time and place is set to be confirmed in the coming days, with the AFF adding that the Barcelona star was eager to meet his young fan.

Young Murtaza has since been given a full Barcelona kit, with Messi's number 10, along the opportunity to step out onto a football pitch for the first time, and has played together with Afghan U-16 national team.

Murtaza, the son of Mohammad Aref, and a resident of the Jaghori district of Ghazni, fashioned a football jersey out of a blue and white plastic bag, inspired by the Argentina colors worn by his idol Messi. Using the primary resources he had, Murtaza managed to wear the makeshift Messi jersey while playing football in the streets of Jaghori.

A photo of the five-year-old appeared on the internet, and since then social media has been rife with reports and pictures of the ‘mystery boy’ wearing a plastic bag with the Lionel Messi’s name written on it.

As the photo went viral, there was early speculation suggesting that the boy in question was an Iraqi Kurd. However, later reports identified the boy as five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi from a rural area in the Jaghori district.

According to the BBC Trending, Azim Ahmadi, an Afghan living in Australia put an end to the quest of finding the boy by getting touch with his brother Arif, Murtaza’s father in Afghanistan, who confirmed that his son was indeed the boy that the internet has been searching for.

Arif said the original photo of Murtaza wearing the plastic shirt was taken by his oldest son Hamayon who published it on his Facebook page.

“The boy really loves Messi and football. It is not possible for us to buy [a jersey] for him. Because I am a simple farmer. So the kids decided to use the plastic bag,” Arif said, adding that Murtaza knows that he is famous now and that he is “extremely happy,” Mohammad Aref said.

“He heard about it from friends who have internet. They called and told us about it. My younger son is also hoping that foreign countries will help us meet Messi and hopes that one day he can be as good football player as Messi,” he said.

Football is largely popular among Afghans including the kids who regularly follow European league matches.

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