The Plastic Bag That Meant A Meeting With Messi

An Afghan boy named Murtaza Ahmadi became a worldwide internet sensation recently for his devotion to his favourite footballer - Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi. Unable to get hold of a genuine Argentina replica shirt in his native Afghanistan, he made do with a blue and white striped plastic bag - bearing Messi's famous number 10, of course! - and moved the entire global football community with his willingness to do almost anything to emulate his idol. Now Messi, who is nicknamed "The Atomic Flea" for his short stature and his astounding abilities with the ball at his feet, seems to have got to hear about young Murtaza.

Watching and dreaming

Growing up Ghazni, one of the poorest provinces in Afghanistan, Murtaz can't have imagined that he would ever be known outside Afghanistan, although he practised his football for hours every day. Perhaps he dreamed of emulating the "Flea" one day, but in truth he probably expected to spend his days quietly, working for his family to help earn enough to live while watching Messi play on his dad's battery-powered TV. When the online football community got to hear about the little Afghan boy in the plastic bag shirt, though, they were charmed at once.

The world wakes up to Murtaza

Within a few hours, his story went viral and was soon being talked about all over the world - including in Spain. Gradually, though, Murtaza's tale faded from the headlines, and it seemed as though no more would be heard of the young footballer from Ghazni Province - but over in Europe, Messi's club directors had other ideas. They quietly arranged for a special surprise to be sent all the way to Afghanistan: a replica number 10 shirt. But that was only the start of it all, as Murtaza was soon to become the luckiest football fan in all Afghanistan...
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