‘Messi’ the boy forced into exile from Afghanistan
First an overnight online whiz-kid and now an overland offline whipping-boy; all because of one thing – his genuine and sincere belief about the Argentine super star Lionel Messi.
Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmidi has to make the trek along with his dad and brother from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The family in self-exile now lives in a one-bedroom rented apartment in the Baluchistan province.
The father has explained that the move is made as a precaution against menaced and possible kidnap by terrorists.
“At first we were very happy, as my son became famous. but later I received several phone calls from kidnappers who said that by indulging in football, my son will become a non-believer, and he is not reciting the Holy Quran and that they will kidnap him. They wanted money, so we came to Pakistan,” says father Arif Ahmadi.
The online search for the boy was sparked by a single photo that went viral. The photo shows the 5-year-old boy, wearing a homemade shirt which is made from a striped blue plastic bag and imitates the famous Argentina strip. The photo was taken by his elder brother Humayon Ahmadi, who published the picture on his Facebook page.
“He always loves football, and his favorite player is Lionel Messi. One day he asked me for a professional jersey, but as we were poor, we could not afford a real one. So i cut one from a shopping bag, took his pictures and put them on my Facebook. I didn’t think he would become so famous,” recalls brother Humayon.
Everything seems to have changed around Murtaza, but the five-year-old’s love for Messi remains the same.
“Messi, I love you very much. Dear Messi, please come over, I want to meet you,” says Murtaza.
Murtaza’s father says the Afghanistan Football Federation promised to arrange a meeting for his son with Lionel Messi, but nothing happened afterwards.
Reportedly, Messi Foundation has said, “The meeting is not taking place.” But still, Murtaza’s dreams were partially achieved after he received signed shirts and a football from Messi.
For Murtaza Ahmadi’s family, the journey has not ended here. They have hopes of a new life far from threats of violence. Murtaza Ahmadi has not given up on soccer and he hopes that one day he will meet his hero, Lionel Messi.
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