‘I love Messi and my shirt says Messi loves me,’ Murtaza Ahmadi said to UNICEF
An Afghan boy who became an internet sensation for wearing an improvised soccer jersey made from a plastic bag has been sent the real thing by FC Barcelona player Lionel Messi.
Murtaza Ahmadi travelled with his family from eastern Ghazni province to Kabul to receive the gifts sent by Messi through UNICEF,
Murtaza had no idea he had become an internet sensation after his elder brother, Homayoun, 15, posted the photographs on Facebook of him wearing the plastic bag.
A photo of Murtaza Ahmadi wearing a blue and white striped bag as a soccer jersey shot around the web back in mid-January. The bag had “Messi” and the player’s number, 10, written on the back. It was also patterned like the Argentina World Cup jersey.
The five-year-old had asked his father for a Lionel Messi jersey after watching him on TV, but his father had told him that it was impossible. Not only couldn’t he afford one, they lived too far away from a city to even find a jersey.
“He kept crying for days asking for the shirt until his brother Hamayon helped him make one from the plastic bag to make him happy. He stopped crying after wearing that plastic bag shirt,” the boy’s father told.
Messi’s management team confirmed on Thursday that Murtaza was sent a signed Argentina shirt and football from the Barcelona forward, who has been crowned the world’s best player five times.
Messi is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the agency helped to get the shirt to the boy, posting the picture of Murtaza on its Facebook page.
— UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) February 25, 2016
UNICEF emphasized the importance of helping the 43 million children who it says are “trapped in emergencies worldwide.”
The organization writes, “Like so many other children, he has the same right to thrive, play, and practice sports.”
“I feel very happy that he is famous now,” Ahmadi said. “He is really excited that his pictures are everywhere now. He wants to become a football player in the future and go to school.” His father only wished Messi could have come to Afghanistan to give the gifts in person.