Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi posing with a jersey sent to him by Argentine football star Lionel Messi in 2016

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AFP / Unicef

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Murtaza Ahmadi with a signed Messi shirt, which was despatched to him after being photographed in a selfmade model

A younger Afghan boy who was made well-known on-line for his devotion to footballer Lionel Messi has been compelled to flee his residence for the second time.

Murtaza Ahmadi, now aged seven, went viral in 2016 after being photographed carrying a selfmade Messi shirt, customary out of a plastic bag.

He later met his hero in Qatar.

His household say they’ve now deserted their residence in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from the Taliban.

They had been residing within the south-eastern Ghazni province – which militants have been concentrating on – and have escaped to the capital, Kabul.

They beforehand sought short-term refuge in Pakistan in 2016, however returned once they ran out of cash, in keeping with AFP information company.

The makeshift shirt

Murtaza was 5 years outdated when he wore a plastic-bag shirt within the white-and-blue colors of the Argentine nationwide staff, which Messi captains. It had the participant’s quantity 10 drawn on the entrance with a marker pen.

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Media captionA photograph of five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi carrying a selfmade Lionel Messi shirt went viral

After a photograph was shared broadly on social networks, individuals referred to as for him to be discovered so Messi might reply.

When the boy’s title was launched, the participant despatched him a bundle – together with a signed shirt – by way of the youngsters’s charity Unicef, which he works for as an envoy.

Murtaza was later invited to fulfill Messi when the Barcelona star performed a pleasant in Doha in late 2016. The younger fan walked on to the pitch together with his idol.

The Taliban threats

Nonetheless, his household say they concern the celebrity has made him a Taliban goal.

“Native strongmen had been calling and saying, ‘You will have change into wealthy, pay the cash you have got acquired from Messi or we are going to take your son’,” his mom, Shafiqa, informed AFP.

She stated weren’t capable of take any of their belongings – together with the dear shirt – when then left their residence in the midst of the night time after listening to gunshots.

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Murtaza, his dad and mom and his 4 brothers live in a single room in a shared Kabul condominium

A house underneath siege

Murtaza’s household are a part of the Shia-denominated Hazara ethnic group, which has been focused by the Sunni Taliban.

The Ghazni space stays underneath state management, however it’s thought-about to be of strategic significance within the battle between the federal government and the Taliban.

The hard-line Islamic group launched a serious assault on the world in August and renewed their efforts in November, forcing hundreds of locals to flee. Tons of of individuals – civilians, troopers, and insurgents – had been killed within the outbreak of violence.

Murtaza’s 17-year-old brother, Humayoon, informed Efe information company that that they had not been capable of ship him to high school for the previous two years and they don’t let him play on the street.

“I miss Messi,” Murtaza stated, when AFP discovered him in Kabul. He stated he hopes to fulfill him once more sooner or later.

“Once I meet him, I’ll say, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he’ll reply saying thanks and be secure, and I’ll go along with him to the pitch the place he’ll play and I’ll watch him.”

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