The younger Lionel Messi fan who touched the hearts of thousands and thousands when he was pictured sporting a makeshift soccer jersey along with his favourite participant’s title and quantity on it was pressured to flee along with his household from their residence in Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s offensive within the area.

Murtaza Ahmadi, 7, met his idol in 2016 after the picture of him within the Messi jersey, made out of blue and white striped plastic, went viral. Murtaza acquired to fulfill Messi — the Argentine worldwide participant and FC Barcelona star — and even stood on the sphere with him when Messi’s membership Barcelona performed a pleasant match in Qatar.

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Two years later, Murtaza’s household was pressured to flee from their residence in southeastern Ghazni province due to intense combating from a Taliban onslaught. The province had beforehand been deemed secure, in line with Agence France-Presse. The household is now certainly one of many residing in Kabul and in addition fearing for his or her son’s security.

“We could not take any of our belongings, we left solely with our lives,” Murtaza’s mom Shafiqa advised AFP.

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The household are members of a Shiite ethnic group focused by the Taliban.

“The hazard of the Taliban coming again is excessive. Going again isn’t an possibility,” Murtaza’s mom mentioned.

The strain has solely elevated since Murtaza’s pictures went viral. In 2016, the household was pressured to maneuver to neighboring Pakistan for a short while over threats from the Taliban. The household returned to Afghanistan once they ran out of cash.

Shafiqa detailed the continuing threats to AFP.

“Native strongmen have been calling and saying, ‘You’ve gotten turn out to be wealthy, pay the cash you’ve gotten acquired from Messi or we are going to take your son,’” she mentioned. “At night time we might typically see unknown males, watching and checking our home, after which the calls. Through the days, we would not dare let him outdoors residence to play with different kids.”

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Whereas his household fears for his or her son’s security, Murtaza advised the information company he misses taking part in soccer and misses the jersey he acquired from Messi.

“I miss Messi,” he mentioned. “After I meet him, I’ll say, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he’ll reply saying thanks and be secure, and I’ll go together with him to the pitch the place he’ll play and I’ll watch him.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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