A young Lionel Messi fan has been given a shirt signed by the Barcelona star after a picture of his plastic replica took the internet by storm.
The photograph of Murtaza Ahmadi, a football-mad five-year-old from Afghanistan, wearing a makeshift Argentina shirt with ‘Messi’ scrawled on the back began trending on social media last month.
Messi, a goodwill ambassador for children’s charity UNICEF, has sent autographed shirts and a football along with a personal message for the youngster, with the charity showing a picture of Murtaza proudly wearing the kit on their Facebook page.
“I love Messi and my shirt says Messi loves me,” he said.
— UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) 25 February 2016
Following an erroneous claim from a Twitter user that he was from a district in Iraq, Murtaza’s identity was eventually revealed after his father Arif explained the origins of his plastic bag jersey.
“I told him that we were living in a poor village far from the city and it was impossible for me to get him the shirt,” he told CNN.
“He kept crying for days asking for the shirt until his brother Hamayon helped him make one from the plastic bag to make him happy.
“He stopped crying after wearing that plastic bag shirt.”
Barcelona have announced an extension to their own agreement with UNICEF which will last until 2020.
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