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Lionel Messi lookalike brings Iranian city to a standstill

Iranian student Reza Parastesh shocked many with his resemblance to Barcelona star Messi [AFP]

Date of publication: 9 May, 2017

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An Iranian student who bears an uncanny resemblance to Argentine football star Lionel Messi brought the ancient city of Hamedan to a standstill appearing dressed in Barcelona's home colours.
There was panic in the Iranian city of Hamadan this week, as a lookalike of Barcelona star Lionel Messi shocked crowds by casually walking down the streets in the football-mad country.

Wearing the distinctive maroon and blue home colours of Messi's Catalan club, Reza Parastesh brought the streets of Hamedan to a standstill with the prank.

So convincing was the Iranian student's appearance as Messi that a crowd of Barcelona supporters clamored to have their picture taken with the "star", while police rushed to the scene to control the fracas.

The unannounced appearance of the Messi doppelganger in the security-tight state led police to impound the doppleganger's car, while the 25-year-old student only narrowily avoided arrest himself.

The story of the Messi lookalike began when his father noticed Parastesh's uncanny resemblance to the Argentine footballer and encouraged his son to use his looks to his advantage.

After carefully cultivating a short beard and grooming his hair to mimic the footballer, Parastesh became an almost overnight sensation creating a buzz with Iranian sports journalists.

The people of Hamadan, in western Iran, didn't appear to be aware of the back story, with dozens of members of the public thinking it was the real footballer and jostling to take selfies with bearded man.

Yet despite the close shave with the law Paratesh said it won't stop him from continuing to appear in public as the Barcelona double - or at least until the real Messi visits Iran and meets his doppelganger.

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