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7 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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From dream to nightmare

Afghan ‘Little Messi’ forced to flee

AFP, Kabul
Afghan ‘Little Messi’ forced to flee
This picture taken on December 3, 2018 shows Murtaza Ahmadi, a supporter of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, kicking stones outside his home in Kabul. Murtaza Ahmadi moved the world with his love for footballer Lionel Messi in 2016. His dream of meeting the Argentinian came true, but now he is living a nightmare as one of thousands of Afghans displaced by war. AFP Photo

Murtaza Ahmadi moved the world with his love for footballer Lionel Messi in 2016. His dream of meeting the Argentinian came true, but now the seven-year-old boy is living a nightmare as one of thousands of Afghans displaced by war. Murtaza and his family abandoned their home in southeastern Ghazni province in November, along with hundreds of others fleeing intense fighting after the Taliban launched an offensive in the previously safe area.

Now they are among the thousands of similarly uprooted people struggling to get by in Kabul, and also living with the fear that the Taliban are hunting for their famous son.

The image of Murtaza sporting a makeshift Messi jersey -- made of a blue and white striped plastic bag and with Messi's name and famous number 10 written carefully on the back in felt-tip pen -- flooded media and social networks in 2016. The media hype drew the football superstar's attention, and that year Murtaza met his idol in Qatar, where he walked out onto the pitch clutching Messi's hand as a mascot for a Barcelona friendly.

Messi, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, also gave his tiny fan an autographed jersey and a football.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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