Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghan Boy Receives Autographed Lionel Messi Jerseys

Murtaza Ahmadi posing with a jersey sent to him by Argentine football star Lionel Messi.

It was a dream come true for a young Afghan football (soccer) fan, thanks to the sport's best player, Lionel Messi.

Murtaza Ahmadi, 5, was given two autographed jerseys from the Barcelona forward through the United Nations Children's Fund.

The autographs said “with much love” in Spanish.

How Ahmadi got the jerseys began last January when a photo of the boy wearing a homemade Argentine national jersey made out of a plastic bag and emblazoned with Messi’s No. 10 went viral. On social media, he was referred to as the “little Messi.”

Murtaza was originally identified as Iraqi, but was eventually tracked down in Afghanistan.

The boy’s father, Arif Ahmadi, told CNN getting the real jerseys from the superstar was “one of the happiest moments” of his son’s life.

The family had said buying a real Messi jersey would have been far too expensive.

"I love Messi -- I love him very much," Murtaza told CNN, speaking from his home in Jaghori, southwest of Kabul.

Messi also sent the boy a signed Barcelona jersey and a signed football.

The Afghan Football Federation says it is trying to arrange for Murtaza to meet his hero, but that no date has been set.

Last month, Messi received his fifth Ballon d’Or prize, which is given to the best football player in the world.

Here's a video about Murtaza: