Lionel Messi 'to meet five-year-old fan pictured with homemade shirt in Afghanistan'

'I want to be like Messi when I grow up,' says boy

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The Independent Online

Lionel Messi will reportedly meet the five-year-old boy who sparked a worldwide search after a picture emerged of him wearing a blue and white plastic carrier bag he had fashioned into an Argentina shirt with the footballer’s name on it.

A campaign was launched track down the young boy - who lives in a Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan - after the image was shared by thousands on social media.

He was eventually identified as Murtaza Ahmadi. His father told CNN he couldn’t afford to buy his son a replica football shirt.

“I told him that we were living in a poor village far from the city and it was impossible for me to get him the shirt," he said.

Jorge Messi, Lionel's father, told the AFP news agency the footballer was familiar with the photos and “wants to do something” for the boy who lives in the Taliban region prone to insurgency.

And the Afghanistan Football Federation has confirmed the Barcelona player is trying to arrange a meeting with his devoted fan.

“Messi has been in communication with the federation to set up a meeting with the young boy,” Sayed Ali Kazemi, a spokesman, from the Afghanistan Football Federation told AFP.

“We are working to see whether Messi will come to Afghanistan or the five-year-old will travel to Spain or they will meet in a third country.”

A time and place for the meeting has yet to be arranged and there has been no immediate comment from FC Barcelona.

After the young boy was tracked down last week, he expressed his adoration for the Barcelona player.

“I love Messi, he plays well, the shirt was made by my brother and I liked it very much," he said.

"We do not have a football playground near our house, and the only ball I have is punctured.

“I want to be like Messi, when I grow up."

Although the national stadium in Kabul was used for executions during the years of Taliban rule until 2001, football continues to be massively popular throughout Afghanistan.