The image of a six-year-old Afghan boy wearing an improvised Lionel Messi jersey made from a plastic bag touched the hearts of millions on social media. Now, nearly a year later, Murtaza Ahmadi has met his idol.
Murtaza made a special trip from Afghanistan to Qatar, where Messi was with his Barcelona teammates to play a friendly against Al Ahli.
In a meeting arranged by the organising committee of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Messi held hands with Murtaza at the team hotel before picking up the boy and posing for photographs. Murtaza was wearing a Barcelona jersey.
“I’m very happy to have met my hero. It is a dream for me,” said Murtaza , who walked out onto the field with the five-time world player of the year for yesterday’s match. Barcelona beat Al Ahli 5-3.
Video of the day: When 6 year old Murtaza Ahmadi finally met his idol Lionel Messi and didn’t want to leave him ??????pic.twitter.com/lZq2Qnflyk— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) December 13, 2016
The boy became an internet sensation early this year when pictures of him playing near his home in Ghazni province were widely circulated.
They showed him wearing a plastic bag — in blue-and-white stripes, like the Argentina national team jersey — with Messi and the No 10 written in black marker.
A few weeks later, Messi sent signed Barcelona and Argentina jerseys to Murtaza.
Murtaza’s father, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, said in May the family was forced to leave Afghanistan amid threats and fears Murtaza would be kidnapped because of his sudden notoriety. “Life became a misery for us,” said the father.
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