Afghan Boy Lionel Messi appears to have solved an internet row by announcing he is the boy who made a Leo Messi shirt from a plastic bag – after a Kurdish boy had claimed it was him. The photo of the boy playing football in the dirt while wearing a carrier bag with ‘Messi 10’ written on the back in blue felt tip pen touched a thousand hearts when it was shared online earlier this month.The image went viral and sparked a frenzied internet campaign to identify the boy.
Even Barcelona superstar Messi was so moved by the image he wanted to meet him to give him a real football shirt belonging to his idol.But the picture sparked an internet row when a 10-year-old boy called Human Ali Ahmed claimed that he was the boy in the photo.Human, a Kurd from Qasara, a village just outside Dohuk, said he loved the Barcelona star and was too poor to buy his own shirt.
But now Azim Ahmadi, an Afghan living in Australia, has posted pictures of his nephew Murtaza who seems to have a more convincing claim to being the mystery football fan.One of the series of photographs even shows Murtaza wearing the plastic bag back-to-front, so he could pose proudly showing his replica football shirt and its number 10.
Azim’s brother Arif – Murtaza’s father – confirmed his son is the boy at the centre of the internet search. Arif said the original photo that sparked the internet furore was taken by his oldest son Hamayon, who published them on his Facebook page.The family live in the Jaghori District, in the eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.
Arif said: ‘This little kid really loves Messi and football. It is not possible for us to buy [a jersey] for him. Because I am a simple farmer. So the kids decided to use the plastic.’ The father says Murtaza knows that he is famous now and ‘he is extremely happy’.’He heard from friends who have internet. They called and told us about it. My younger son hopes that foreign countries can help us meet Messi and that we could be good football players like him in the future.’
If the claim is fully substantiated, then it will contradict earlier reports in which Human identified himself as the famous Messi fan. ‘I like to play the same position as Messi. Me and my five friends all play football and our team is called FC Barcelona. I like other players in Barcelona, but Messi has always been my favourite. I would very much like to meet him. I love him.