From dream to nightmare: Afghan 'Little Messi' forced to flee

Murtaza Ahmadi became an Internet sensation after wearing a plastic bag Lionel Messi Argentina shirt went viral. AFP

However, Murtaza's fortunes have quickly taken a devastating downtown after his family were forced to flee their home in the Jaghori district of Ghazni provincel in November following clashes between government forces and the Taliban.

The story of Murtaza Ahmadi, the "little Afghan Messi", had moved the world in 2016.

"We couldn't take any of our belongings, we left only with our lives, " Murtaza's mother Shafiqa was quoted as saying during an interview with her face partly covered with a scarf. Murtaza got to meet Messi - the Argentine global player and FC Barcelona star - and even stood on the field with him when Messi's club Barcelona played a friendly match in Qatar.

Murtaza's family belongs to the Shiite-denominated Hazara ethnic group, who were targeted by the Sunni Taliban in the attacks.

Barcelona forward Messi, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, met with the youngster after the image emerged 2016. Hundreds of people - civilians, soldiers, and insurgents - were killed in the outbreak of violence.

The United Nations, in a short report, reported "families repeatedly displaced in search of safe places", "burned houses" and "violation of worldwide humanitarian rules".

This is not the first time Murtaza's family have escaped from their home.

"(They) said if they capture him, they will cut him into pieces", Murtaza's mother Shafiqa told AFP.

"The danger of the Taliban coming back is high, going back is not an option", she added.

Murtaza was given an official Messi Argentina shirt. Courtesy Unicef
Murtaza was given an official Messi Argentina shirt. Courtesy Unicef

Sports were rarely tolerated under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, and the Kabul football stadium was a well-known venue for stonings and executions.

At the moment, Afghan security forces are pushing back the Taliban in Jaghori, but Shafiqa and her family prefers their present location.

On the other hand, Little Murtaza can't wait to reunite with his precious football and jersey from Messi.

The boy and his family were also forced to flee in 2016, when they went to Pakistan after being threatened by local extremist groups.

"Local strongmen were calling and saying, "You have become rich, pay the money you have received from Messi or we will take your son'," she said". "And the threats have resumed", shakes Shafiqa. But Murtaza did not go to school for fear of being kidnapped.

Murtaza's older brother Houmayoun, who made the Messi plastic bag jersey, said: "We are anxious something bad will happen if they know who Murtaza is".

More than 300,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of 2018, the United Nations says. "We are afraid that something bad will happen if someone comes to know", said the 17-year-old. "Messi miss me too, when I see him again, I will tell him Salam and how you go He will answer me: it goes and be careful Then I will accompany him on the football field and watch him play", he says with his child's words.

Murtaza wants to get his ball and his jerseys "to play with".

'I miss Messi, ' he added.

Related News:

  • Father of missing tourist Grace Millane speaks

    Father of missing tourist Grace Millane speaks

    They have not yet confirmed whether Grace left the City Life Hotel and this is part of the ongoing investigation, police say. Her family has not heard from her in days, including on her birthday, which lead them to raise the alarm on Monday.
    You won't wake the neighbours with this electric Aston Martin DB6

    You won't wake the neighbours with this electric Aston Martin DB6

    As for why the company is bothering? Growth and demand for classic cars is growing and there is also a push to electrification. Aston Martin Works, the auto maker's historic arm, will create a reversible EV powertrain conversion for its classic models.
    PGA of American Headquarters Leaving Florida For Texas

    PGA of American Headquarters Leaving Florida For Texas

    Following months of speculation , the PGA of America officially announced its headquarters are relocating to Frisco, Texas. The agreement also brings the Senior PGA Championship twice, the Women's PGA Championship twice and possibly a Ryder Cup.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Announced Exclusively for Nintendo Switch

    Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Announced Exclusively for Nintendo Switch

    You can play with up to four players via a local wireless network, pair four Joy-cons on a single Switch, or even play online. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order will be released exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2019.
    Trump nominates ex-Fox News anchor Nauert as United Nations  envoy

    Trump nominates ex-Fox News anchor Nauert as United Nations envoy

    On Nauert's nomination, Hirono said she would have "difficulty" supporting her due to her lack of experience . But she has taken on a bolder role under Pompeo, assertively seeking to promote his message.
    Qatar says emir receives Saudi invite to GCC summit

    Qatar says emir receives Saudi invite to GCC summit

    But Saudi Arabia and the UAE have repeatedly said resolving the dispute was not a top priority for them. However, QNA did not say whether Sheikh Tamim would travel to Saudi Arabia to attend the summit.
  • Far Cry New Dawn Box Art Leaks

    Far Cry New Dawn Box Art Leaks

    Ubisoft adds further gameplay details: "At the Homebase, players will prepare to face off against the threat of the Highwaymen". A Devil May Cry 5 demo - or the first demo, as Capcom calls it, will be available for free today exclusively on Xbox One.
    Baby from dead donor's womb gives infertile hope

    Baby from dead donor's womb gives infertile hope

    Knowing this could make all the difference not just when it comes to deceased donations, but live ones as well. The first baby born from a woman who recieved a uterus transplant from a dead donor is healthy a year on.
    Stranger Things: The Game revealed at the Game Awards

    Stranger Things: The Game revealed at the Game Awards

    The game will also support cooperative play, and will be compatible with Xbox One , PC and Nintendo Switch when it comes to cross-play support.
  • The Epic Games Store is live

    The Epic Games Store is live

    What's more important, though, is that developers and gamers alike have only to gain from the situation. Only five additional games are available for purchase right now with more being listed as "coming soon".
    Saif Nervous to Watch Sara in Kedarnath, Despite Kareena’s Request

    Saif Nervous to Watch Sara in Kedarnath, Despite Kareena’s Request

    Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Ashok Kumar said the film has been banned in seven districts , reported PTI. The movie is a love story with a tragedy at the end of the floods that took away everything in Kedarnath temple.
    Derek Fisher hired to coach WNBA's Sparks

    Derek Fisher hired to coach WNBA's Sparks

    It's a bit surprising that the Sparks are bringing in a guy with a checkered past and a brutal win-loss record as a head coach. He had a memorable stint with the Lakers, as he was able to win five National Basketball Association titles with the team.


Most liked

China's rover blasts off to make history on moon's 'dark side'
It may also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

‘Red Dead Online’ Update Increases Payments, Reduces Weapon Prices
Stay tuned for a follow-up once we've had a chance to dive in and check out the update for ourselves. Red Dead Online Beta is currently now available for all players on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive adds battle royale mode, goes free-to-play
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now has its own battle royale mode in the ever-growing genre, Danger Zone . Just like standard Counter-Strike, you can then use that cash to purchase additional weapons.

Red Sox RHP Eovaldi signs four-year deal
The Red Sox acquired him for left-handed prospect Jalen Beeks on July 25 and Eovaldi went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in Boston. Boston's starting rotation looks to be set after locking-up Eovaldi long-term, but questions remain in the bullpen.

The Outer Worlds - Official Announcement Trailer
Developed by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky (co-creators of the original Fallout ), it's basically " Fallout , but in space". The Outer Worlds debuted in a trailer at the Game Awards tonight, a week after Obsidian teased its new project .

DONE DEAL? Man City and Columbus Crew agree Zack Steffen fee
Harrison is now on loan with Leeds United, while Palmer-Brown is now on loan with Dutch side NAC Breda. City are unsure whether Steffen will be awarded a work permit and he is likely to head out on loan.

Matthew Dellavedova could be headed back to Cleveland via trade
Hill, 32, is averaging 10.8 points and shooting 46 percent on 3-pointers, though he missed 11 games with a shoulder injury. John Henson has spent his entire career with the Bucks after the organization drafted him 14th overall in the 2012 Draft.

Y’all Win: Michelle Williams Announces Split From Problematic Fiancé Chad Johnson
The couple has had their share of challenges and Michelle even admitted her mental health issues nearly made her push Chad away. We will take a soundbite, and we judge a person; we judge a show; we judge a relationship based off of one little clip.

New 'Captain Marvel' trailer premieres during 'Monday Night Football'
A similar trailer tease preceded the Spider-Man Homecoming trailer, but here's what's insane about that. Why it matters: " Captain Marvel " promises to be an important film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Numbers for the BC government's climate change plan
The John Horgan government, along with the BC Green Party, have released their Climate Plan for the province going forward. Meeting its legislated target would require a reduction of 25.5 megatonnes from 2007 levels, according to the report.

Man died after coughing up lung after heart surgery
The anti-coagulants the man was taking forced blood out of his pulmonary system and into his right lung. This kind of clot isn't unheard of in patients, but what was unusual was how intact it was.

Celebrities pay tribute to George H.W. Bush after former president's death
Former President Jimmy Carter said the Republican's administration "was marked by grace, civility and social conscience". President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Saturday mourned the passing of former President George H.W.

Google Assistant Will Now Offer Radio-Style, On-Demand News From Publishers
And if you don't like what's playing, you can always ask the Assistant to jump to the next story. After going through a few quick stories, longer-form content will be introduced to the mix.

De Jong: Maybe I'll stay at Ajax another year
Ajax star Frenkie De Jong seemingly has the pick of Europe's top clubs and he's been linked with majority in recent months. De Jong told the Manchester Evening News earlier this week that he wants to finish this season well with Ajax.

China to 'immediately' apply measures agreed in trade truce with US
Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of trade duties on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of goods. Trump warned that although he and Xi want to get to an agreement "remember, I am a Tariff Man".