In 2016, Seven-year-old Murtuza Ahmadi from Afghanistan had grabbed headlines after he was spotted wearing homemade Lionel Messi’s jersey, fashioned out of a blue and white striped plastic bag by his older brother.
He later met his hero, Lionel Messi in Qatar during a football friendly match. The Barcelona legend even signed a jersey for him and also gifted him with a football. But his happiness was short lived as the fear that the Taliban are hunting for the little fan.
Murtaza and his family abandoned their home in southeastern Ghazni province in November. They had even left the prized football Messi gave the youngster.
Murtaza’s mother Shafiqa even mentioned how they fled from their hometown Jaghori in the night after hearing gunshots. She said, “We couldn’t take any of our belongings, we left only with our lives. The danger of the Taliban coming back is high, going back is not an option,”
“Local strongmen were calling and saying, “You have become rich, pay the money you have received from Messi or we will take your son”, Shafiqa stressed.
Murtaza’s older brother who made the plastic jersey earlier said, “We are worried something bad will happen if they know who Murtaza is,” said his brother.
“I want them back so I can play. I miss Messi. When I meet him, I will say, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he will reply saying thank you and be safe, and I will go with him to the pitch where he will play and I will watch him,” said seven-year-old Murtaza.