Thursday, December 9

The Afghan boy in Lionel Messi’s plastic shirt desperately calls for help

Thanks to his 2016 photographs, Murtaza had the opportunity to meet “La Pulga”.

STR / AFP / Getty Images

The Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi, that rose to fame when in In 2016 some photographs were made viral in which he appeared with a shirt made with a plastic bag with the name of the footballer Lionel Messi and his number 10 is now in hiding in Kabul for fear of possible retaliation from the Taliban.

The young man, who is now ten years old, lives with his family in a small apartment in the Afghan capital, where they fled two months ago from their native village in the southern province of Ghazni, escaping, also then, of the Taliban attacks.

However, they did not expect that shortly after Islamists will succeed in taking control of Kabul after a lightning offensive, capturing the capital on August 15 without encountering any type of resistance from the Afghan security forces.

“I am trapped at home and I cannot go out because I am very afraid of the Taliban”Young Murtaza, who belongs to the attacked Hazara Shiite minority, a constant target of attacks, told Efe, especially by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

I want to travel to a safe place from Afghanistan. Please save me from this situation “, begged the boy, who asked the world’s footballers for help, especially Messi, so that he can leave the country with his family and “Play football in peace.”

Something that Murtaza does not stop doing at any time, even if it is inside his home, a passion for the ball that was clear since in 2016 he was photographed with a shirt made from a plastic bag with the blue and white stripes of the Argentine national team and the name of Messi and his number 10 painted.

But those images, that allowed him to meet his idol in person in Qatar, have brought him more misfortunes than joys, as his sudden fame brought with it threats from extremists or even fear of the possible kidnapping of the child, many thinking that the Argentine star had made a great donation to them.

The little boy’s journey since then even took him to Pakistan, where hethey bequeathed to request asylum in the United States without success, or to live in other Afghan provinces, including Kabul itself, where they first fled in a hurry in 2018, leaving the ball and signed shirts that Messi had given him.


The boy’s family and Murtaza himself assure that sometimes during the night, the young man wakes up screaming for fear of the insurgents: “In my dream I see the Taliban come, knock on the door and yell at me.”

After the Taliban took full control of Kabul on August 15, and after the total withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan this week, also with the end of regular evacuation flights, The boy’s family now fears that Islamists will initiate “door-to-door” searches.

“What will happen to us? We were already under threat ”, explained to Efe Mahdia Ahmadi, a 22-year-old sister of the minor, who explained that when they arrived in Kabul two months ago, the city was safe, and they even had police and soldiers protecting them.

Now “we have no one”, and whenever “a knock at the door, Murtaza thinks they are the Taliban and runs towards me or my mother to hide“, Assures the young woman.

The threats prevented even Murtaza from going to school for years, and now the family only wishes leave the country to take refuge in a safe place away from the Taliban which, according to some complaints, have begun to retaliate.

Tens of thousands of former government employees, members of the security forces, activists or journalists have already left the country in one of the recently concluded international evacuation flights, and many others dream of fleeing in some way.

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