Quetta: Five-year-old Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmed now known more as Little Messi became a worldwide sensation after being photographed wearing a homemade Lionel Messi jersey made from a blue-stripped plastic bag. The photo of Murtaza wearing the plastic jersey soon reached Messi himself and through UNICEF, the Argentinean footballer sent Murtaza his very own autographed No. 10 national team jersey.
In the month of January, Murtaza’s elder brother posted Murtaza’s picture wearing Messi’s autographed jersey. This act got the family into massive trouble and Little Messi and his family had to flee to Pakistan from Afghanistan.
The 5 year old’s father Mohammad Arif said that he received threat calls as the media spotlight turned on his son. He said, “I felt my family and I were in danger so decided to leave Afghanistan. I received 20-30 unknown threatening calls in Afghanistan asking why I’m teaching my kid about football and not teaching him about the Quran.”
The family first travelled to the Pakistani capital Islamabad and later shifted to Quetta. The safety and security of Murtaza and his family made his father leave Afghanistan.