Lionel Messi's five-year-old fan from Afghanistan dubbed "Messi's biggest fan" has been treated to two autographed jerseys by the football legend. The young Afghan boy became an Internet sensation after he was seen wearing a blue and white plastic bag with Messi scribbled over it with marker.
"Murtaza couldn't stop smiling. He kept repeating: I love Messi," UNICEF Afghanistan spokesman Denise Shepherd-Johnson told AFP News. Messi is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and the gifts were sent to him with the help of UNICEF in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Murtaza Ahmadi, 5, travelled with his family from the eastern Ghazni province to Kabul to collect the gifts sent by Messi. On the jerseys, Messi had signed "With much love" in Spanish. A football was also added along with the jerseys, said UNICEF. Messi's management team confirmed on 25 February that the signed Argentina shirts have been sent to little Ahmadi.
A message on UNICEF Afghanistan's Facebook read: "As of today, Murtaza Ahmadi can proudly show off the new signed jerseys and a football he received from UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Leo Messi. Murtaza's photo went viral after he was pictured wearing an Argentine National Team soccer jersey made from a plastic bag with 'Messi' and the number '10' penned on the back."
Ahmadi belongs to the ethnic Hazara minority in Ghazni, which is a volatile city located in the central eastern Afghanistan. Ahmadi's elder brother, Homayoun, 15, had thought of the plastic bag shirt idea and posted the images of his brother on Facebook in January 2015.
Following the social media hype, the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) had said Messi has been in touch with them to organise a meeting with Ahmadi. "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."
Meanwhile, the Spanish embassy in Kabul has said that it will do whatever necessary to make the meeting possible. Wearing the signed Messi shirt, an exuberant Ahmadi said: "I love Messi and my shirt says Messi loves me."