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Afghan 'plastic bag shirt' Messi fan to meet hero

Pictures of Murtaza playing football near his home showed him wearing the plastic bag [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2016

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A five-year-old Afghan boy who made a splash on the Internet by wearing a homemade Lionel Messi shirt might get the chance to meet the Barcelona great.

The Afghanistan Football Federation plans to set up a meeting between Lionel Messi and five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi, who became an internet sensation when photos circulated of him wearing an improvised Messi shirt made from a plastic bag.

Afghan federation spokesman, Sayed Ali Kazemi, said on Tuesday that officials hope Messi can come to Afghanistan to visit the boy, but otherwise they will arrange to send him to Spain, where Messi plays with Barcelona, or arrange a meeting in a third country.

Murtaza is the son of a poor family living
in remote Joghori district [Getty]

Pictures of Murtaza playing football near his home in eastern Ghazni province showed him wearing the plastic bag — in blue and white stripes like the Argentina national team shirt — with Messi and 10 written in black marker.

Murtaza is reportedly the son of a poor family living in remote Joghori district.

Arif Ahmadi, Murtaza's father, said he and his family have only solar power and the boy has seen Messi on TV.

"He (Murtaza) asked me many times to buy a Messi shirt," Arif Ahmadi said. "I couldn't provide for him. Later, his brother made him this plastic shirt and posted his photo on Facebook."

Messi has met with children in special circumstances in the past.

In 2011, he met and kicked around a ball with a 10-year-old boy who had had both legs amputated because of Laurin-Sandrow syndrome. He did the same a year later with a Brazilian boy who was born without feet.

Murtaza was in Kabul on Tuesday, wearing some Barcelona gear under his homemade shirt while running through some soccer drills at the national stadium.

"The Spanish embassy is ready to issue visas for them," said Keramuddin Karim, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation. "We are trying to make contact directly with Barcelona to arrange the meeting, where, when and which date."

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