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Afghan 'Little Messi' meets his idol in Doha, but now his family needs help

Lionel Messi met with six-year-old Mortaza Hashimi in Doha ahead of Barcelona's international mid-week friendly (Photo: Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy)
by Sayer Zaland, ASJF President

DOHA, December 13, 2016 - Six-year-old Mortaza Hashimi, known as the ‘Little Afghan Messi’ has finally met his hero in Qatar.

The Little Afghan Messi, who charmed the world with his Lionel Messi carrier bag football shirt dreams came true when he met his hero in Qatar on Tuesday ahead of before the international friendly match between Barcelona and local team Al Ahli.

Messi met one of his youngest and most internationally well-known fans almost one year after he became an internet sensation.

According to the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) Murtaza was pictured in January wearing a shopping bag with Argentina's blue and white stripes along with Messi's name and No 10 on the back, written in black marker pen by his oldest brother.

Qatar's 2022 World Cup organizing committee The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) shared footage and video of Lionel Messi meeting Murtaza Hashimi.

Early this year Messi sent the six-year-old Afghani a signed shirt and ball, but Murtaza insisted his dream was to meet his hero.

The young boy and his family were forced to leave Afghanistan and settled in Pakistan as they feared for their safety, but are now back in Afghanistan in the hope that they will be able to stay in their home.

Afghanistan Sports Journalists Federation has been in contact with the Afghan government in order to ensure that Murtaza Hashimi and his family are given full care and protection, given the instability of their home region and the fear of kidnapping threats given Murtaza international fame.

The young Messi fan is from a far Daykundi province of Afghanistan, near the dangerous Ghazni region of the country.

According to his sister who asked not to be named, Murtaza is a humble and talented boy who will be ecstatic to meet his hero.

She added that Afghanistan is not safe for them anymore and asked the international community to protect her brother and family.

Murtaza's father, Arif Ahmadi, told the BBC in last February: “This little kid 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.”

The family’s wish is for the boy to train at the highest level and become an international star just like his hero, in the hope that football and power of sport can shine through in Afghanistan.

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