Kabul: The five-year-old Afghan boy who became an internet sensation after he was pictured wearing a Lionel Messi football shirt made out of a plastic bag has been forced to leave his home country.
The father of Murtaza Ahmadi claims his son’s online fame has made the family targets of telephone threats and he fears the boy may be kidnapped.
Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, whose son grabbed headlines with his homemade Argentina shirt earlier this year, said they have moved to neighboring Pakistan hoping for a better life there.
‘Life became a misery for us,’ said Mr Ahmadi, speaking from the family’s new home in the city of Quetta, Pakistan.He added that the family didn’t want to leave Afghanistan, but the threats were just getting more and more serious.
Ahmadi said he feared that his son, Murtaza Ahmadi, would be kidnapped after becoming an Internet sensation after pictures of him wearing a Messi shirt made out of a striped plastic bag went viral.
The family first traveled to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, but couldn’t stay there long because of the high cost of living. They later moved to Quetta.
‘I sold all my belongings and brought my family out of Afghanistan to save my son’s life as well as the lives of the rest of the family,’ the father said.
Earlier this year, the Afghan soccer federation had promised to arrange a meeting between Messi, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and Murtaza.
There were reports that either Messi would come to Afghanistan to visit the boy or that some other arrangement would be made, such as sending the boy to Spain, where Messi plays with Barcelona, or arranging a meeting in a third country.But none of the options worked out, Ahmadi said.’Still, Murtaza hopes that one day he would be able to meet his hero, Messi,’ the father added.