Lionel Messi keen to meet 5-year old Afghan fan

Lionel Messi keen to meet 5-year old Afghan fan

Monday, February 1, 2016 11:30 am


The Afghan boy wearing a Messi plastic jersey

The Afghan boy wearing a Messi plastic jersey

A five year-old Afghan boy who donned a plastic jersey of Lionel Messi will soon meet the Barcelona and Argentine star.

The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) on Monday said Messi was keen to meet Murtaza as soon as possible, though no date or venue has so far been finalised.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi idolises the Argentine soccer star but a jersey of his favourite player is beyond the means of his poor family in the volatile province of Ghazni near Kabul.

His photograph wearing the plastic version of the jersey went viral, Kabul’s football federation said Monday.

His elder brother Homayoun, 15, made him the blue-and-white-striped plastic shirt with Messi’s named scrawled in marker pen and posted the photos of Murtaza wearing it on Facebook in mid-January.

Afghan boy wearing Messi's jersey

Afghan boy wearing Messi’s jersey

Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father, told AFP on Saturday that the footballer was aware of the photos that made waves on social media and “wants to do something” for his young fan.

“Messi has been in communication with the federation to set up a meeting with the young boy,” AFF spokesman Sayed Ali Kazemi told AFP.

“We are working to see whether Messi will come to Afghanistan or the five-year-old will travel to Spain or they will meet in a third country.”

Murtaza’s father, a poor farmer in Ghazni’s Jaghori district, admitted he could not afford to buy him a replica jersey, adding that Murtaza only had a punctured ball to play with.

Photos of the boy wearing the improvised Messi jersey — made from grocery bags discarded by their neighbour — has touched a chord with football fans around the world.

Sport was rarely played under Taliban rule, and the football stadium in Kabul was a notorious venue for executions, stonings and mutilations.

Football and cricket are the two most popular sports in the war-ravaged country.

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