A young Afghan boy who became an internet sensation after being photographed in a homemade replica of Lionel Messi’s famous football strip has finally come face-to-face with his idol. In January this year, pictures emerged of five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi wearing a blue-and-white striped plastic bag to emulate the colours of the Argentinian team. On the back of the bag was scrawled the legend: “Messi 10”. The pictures went viral and, after Messi’s biggest fan was identified and tracked down to Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province, efforts were made to bring Murtaza and the Barcelona star together. Now Ahmad has come face-to-face with the fifth-time Ballon d'Or winner in a heartwarming meeting in Doha, Qatar.
Barcelona were in Qatar to play a friendly against Saudi Arabian Al Ahli on Tuesday evening. Ahmadi, who was given the honour of bringing the match ball out onto the pitch before the match, seized the opportunity to steal another impromptu meeting with his hero. After placing the ball on the centre circle Ahmadi ignores the referee’s attempts to escort him for the pitch before running over to Lionel Messi on the edge of the semi circle.
Luis Suarez broke into fits of laughter as a giggling Lionel Messi tried to point Ahmadi towards the stadium tunnel. Ahmadi’s once in a lifetime experience was finally cut short when the referee picked the six-year-old up and carried him off the pitch. The child and his family now live in Quetta, Pakistan, after fleeing their home in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
“I’m very happy to have met my hero. It is a dream for me,” according to a statement released by the committee overseeing organisation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “The image the world wanted to see,” tweeted Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organisers, who brought the pair together. “The six year old boy who dreamed of meeting his hero, Messi, finally comes true.”
They say Messi doesn’t talk much. They’re wrong. He’s been preaching to us all along. If you look, you can hear him. He’s saying, “Don’t go down, brothers and sisters. Don’t. Go. Down. When life kicks you, when it tries to tackle you, don’t go down. When your legs are heavy and your lungs are burning, don’t go down. When you have every reason to go down–Do. Not. Go. Down. You can’t defy the odds when you’re down. You can’t make someone a believer when you’re down.”
Messi is spreading the word. Don’t let things on the outside be stronger than what’s on the inside. Because life has more in store for you.