Seven-year-old Murtuza Ahmadi from Afghanistan had grabbed headlines in 2016 after he was spotted wearing Lionel Messi’s jersey, made of a blue and white striped plastic bag. The pictures went viral and the media hype helped Murtuza meet 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 by the ongoing war in south-central Asia.
According to Indian website; www.latestly.com, many other families along with Murtaza were uprooted and also living with the fear that the Taliban are hunting for their famous son.
Murtaza’s mother Shafiqa even mentioned how they fled from their hometown Jaghori in the night after hearing gunshots. “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,” Shafiqa stressed, even as she was quick to add that Murtaza’s fame has added more woes to their fears. “Local strongmen were calling and saying, “You have become rich, pay the money you have received from Messi or we will take your son.”
Murtaza’s older brother who made the plastic jersey said the family is not safe. “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 Murtaza.