Arguably footballer Lionel Messi’s biggest fan, five-year old Murtaza Ahmadi made headlines when photos of him sporting a blue-and-white-striped plastic bag, imitating the team colours of Argentina’s national team, surfaced in the media.
After the photos of Murtaza went viral, a worldwide search for the young fan located him in the Jaghori District of Afghanistan’s Ghanzi Province. The boy’s father explained that Murtaza’s brother, Hamayon, had created the outfit for his younger sibling who wanted to wear the same shirt as Messi, but their family could not afford to buy the real thing.
Photos of Murtaza in his homemade shirt
During his time in the limelight Murtaza trained with Afghanistan’s national U-16 team in a session organised by The Afghanistan Football Federation.
Despite various sources reporting that Messi was looking to arrange a meeting with his super fan, the plans were never set in stone.
However, in a final heartwarming gesture the Barcelona player sent the his young fan a signed shirt to replace his homemade one and Murtaza’s reaction speaks for itself: “I love Messi and my shirt says Messi loves me!”
Murtaza in his new prized possession
UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) February 25, 2016
Finally, after almost a year of waiting, on December 13 Messi’s biggest fan got to join the player, along with the rest of the Barcelona team, on the pitch in Qatar.
Clearly overwhelmed by meeting his idol Murtaza clung the player until a linesman carried him off the pitch in order that the game might start.
Get a different perspective
Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.