KABUL, Afghanistan — A five-year-old Afghan boy who made a splash on the internet by wearing a homemade Lionel Messi jersey might get the chance to meet the Barcelona great.
The Afghan Football Federation said it is planning to set up a meeting between Messi and Murtaza Ahmadi, who was pictured wearing an Argentina jersey made from a plastic bag with Messi's name and number on the back.
Tremenda imagen. Un niño en Irak se las ingenia para jugar con la camiseta de su ídolo. The Beautiful Game. pic.twitter.com/O7iMtX1bhe— Juez Central (@Juezcentral) January 16, 2016
Afghan federation spokesman Sayed Ali Kazemi said on Tuesday officials hope Messi can come to Afghanistan to visit the boy, but otherwise they will arrange to send him to Spain, where Messi plays for Barcelona, or arrange a meeting in a third country.
Pictures of Murtaza playing soccer near his home in eastern Ghazni province showed him wearing the plastic bag — in blue and white stripes like the Argentina national kit — with Messi and the No. 10 written in black marker.
Meanwhile, a fan account of Brazilian striker and Messi's Barcelona teammate Neymar, Jr. tweeted on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) that the meeting will most likely happen in Camp Nou in Barcelona.
Afghanistan Football Federation has confirmed that Messi will meet his 5 year old fan Murtaza Ahmadi at Camp Nou ?????? pic.twitter.com/WJjnmVOPbl— Neymar Jr. (@NeyMarvellous) January 31, 2016
Murtaza is from a poor family living in remote Joghori district. According to CNN's Hillary Whiteman, Murtaza's family was unable to get him a real Messi jersey and they had to settle for an improvised one to stop the boy from crying.
Arif Ahmadi, Murtaza's father, said he and his family only have solar power and the boy has seen Messi on TV.
"He (Murtaza) asked me many times to buy a Messi shirt," Arif Ahmadi said. "I couldn't provide for him. Later, his brother made him this plastic shirt and posted his photo on Facebook."
Messi has met with kids in special circumstances in the past. In 2011, he met and kicked around a ball with a 10-year-old boy who had both legs amputated because of Laurin-Sandrow syndrome. He did the same a year later with a Brazilian boy who was born without feet.
Murtaza was in Kabul on Tuesday, wearing some Barcelona gear under his homemade shirt while running through some soccer drills at the national stadium.
"The Spanish embassy is ready to issue visas for them," said Keramuddin Karim, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation. "We are trying to make contact directly with Barcelona to arrange the meeting, where, when and which date."