Afghan boy who made Messi shirt out of plastic bag finally meets his hero

The photograph of the impoverished six-year-old proudly wearing a homemade Lionel Messi jersey made from a plastic bag touched hearts the world over.

Afghan boy who made Messi shirt out of plastic bag finally meets his hero
Murtaza Ahmadi in the plastic bag shirt in January and finally meeting his hero. Photo: STR / AFP

This week, almost a year after the image went viral, Murtaza Ahmadi finally met his hero… and walked onto the pitch beside the Barcelona star.

Murtaza was flown from his home in Afghanistan to Qatar to meet his idol, and the Barça team, as they played a friendly against Al Ahli.

The meeting was arranged by the organizing committee of the 2022 Wold Cup in Qatar.

“I’m very happy to have met my hero. It is a dream for me,” said the boy wearing a huge smile and a real Barcelona jersey.

He accompanied the team onto the pitch ahead of Tuesday’s match, clutching the hand of the five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or.

The child shot to worldwide fame in January when photographs of him playing football in the snow near his home in eastern Ghazni province went viral.

Then five-years-old, Murtaza was wearing a Messi jersey improvised by his older brother from grocery bags.

Photo: STR / AFP.

He was then sent his very own official shirt, signed by the Barça player who is a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador.

But international interest in the story also brought fears that he would be kidnapped because of his sudden notoriety and the family were forced to flee Afghanistan and settle in neighbouring Pakistan.

“Life became a misery for us,” said the father at the time, speaking from the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the family had settled.


‘Diego is eternal’: Messi pays tribute to Maradona

Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Wednesday by calling him "eternal" after his fellow Argentine died of a heart attack.

'Diego is eternal': Messi pays tribute to Maradona
Diego Maradona hugs Lionel Messi after 2010 World Cup quarter final Argentina vs Germany. Photo: AFP

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football,” Messi wrote on Instagram. “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal. I will keep all the beautiful moments that I lived with him and would like to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”






A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Messi and Maradona have often been compared in the debate about who was the greatest footballer of all time.

Both players are icons in Argentina and have been likened to each other due to their global status, dribbling style and famous number 10 shirts.    

Maradona was also Messi's coach during his brief time in charge of the national team, which included Argentina being thrashed by Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.

A banner held up during 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 25, 2014. Photo: AFP


Maradona spent two years at Barcelona, where Messi is now captain and the club's all-time top scorer, although Maradona's greatest years were spent with Napoli in Italy.

Asked about Maradona in 2010, Messi said: “Even if I played for a million years, I'd never come close to Maradona. Not that I'd want to anyway. He's the greatest there's ever been.”