Viral Photo Of "Messi's Biggest Fan" Traced To Boy In Rural Afghanistan
Is this the boy?
NEW DELHI: A photo of a young boy in a Lionel Messi shit made of a plastic bag has gone viral on social media, and has since been traced to rural Afghanistan.
The Barcelona football star supported the online quest to identify the person in the photo, which shows just the back of a young child in a homemade plastic Messi jersey. Following claims that the child was an Iraqi Kurd, the mystery seems to have finally been solved with the child who has become known as "Messi's biggest fan" being identified as five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi from a rural area in Afghanistan.
(Credit: BBC News)
The boy was identified after his uncle, Azim Ahmadi, an Afghan living in Australia posted pictures of his Murtaza. BBC News then contacted Azim’s brother Arif, Murtaza's father, who answered his Afghan mobile and confirmed his son was indeed the boy that the web has been searching for.
According to BBC News, Arif said the original photo of Murtaza wearing the plastic shirt 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 is also hoping that foreign countries help us meet Messi and if we could be good football players like him in the future."
The initially unidentified boy was photographed wearing a blue and white plastic bag improvised to reflect Argentina's national team strip - with the name of his idol and the number 10 written across its back.
Messi was reportedly interested in finding the boy.
The online interest in the photo led to the boy being originally identified a a boy called Homin, in Dohuk. Kurdistan TV went and interviewed Homin.
However, the source of the rumour that concentrated the search efforts on Homin, admitted that he made the whole thing up because he wanted to focus international attention on his hometown.
Unless the BBC has been the victim of another elaborate hoax, Messi’s biggest fan is from Afghanistan. This is all the more apt given the resurgence of the sport in the war torn country. Football, along with cricket, is one of the most popular sports in Afghanistan, with the Afghan national football team winning its first international trophy in 2013 after playing against India.