Almost a year ago, the world met Murtaza Ahmadi, the 6-year-old Afghan boy who went viral with his makeshift plastic bag Lionel Messi jersey.
Ahmadi, from the Jaghori District in Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province, is more than just a fan of the Barcelona icon, Messi is his hero.
After the images spread across the globe, Unicef set out to identify and locate the young boy, and in February, they were able to do so, sending him an official jersey that was signed by Messi himself!
Of course, Messi knew all about the young boy, and was determined to meet his biggest fan as soon as possible. Sadly, the attention that Ahmadi was receiving forced his family to flee the country. In particular, it was the delivery from Unicef that sparked tension within the community, between Ahmadi’s family and local gangsters:
“A few days ago I got a call from a local gangster. He thought that since my son had received these T-shirts from Messi that maybe he also got money and asked for his share,” said Murtaza’s family.
The family had to relocate to Pakistan for their own safety, and any plans for a meeting between the boy and his hero were put on hold.
This week, though, Murtaza Ahmadi’s dream finally came true.
The Barcelona team are in Qatar for an exhibition against Al Ahli, and Murtaza was there too, to meet his hero at last. Messi was just as thrilled to meed Murtaza as Murtaza was to meet Messi! It was a fantastic, beautiful moment, and we’re so, so happy for Murtaza! It’s incredible to see the young boy’s dream coming true after everything he’s had to go through.
— Road to 2022 (@roadto2022) December 13, 2016