The younger Lionel Messi fan who touched the hearts of thousands and thousands when he was pictured carrying a makeshift soccer jersey together with his favourite participant’s identify and quantity on it was compelled to flee together with his household from their house in Afghanistan as a result of Taliban’s offensive within the area.

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

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Two years later, Murtaza’s household was compelled to flee from their house in southeastern Ghazni province due to intense preventing from a Taliban onslaught. The province had beforehand been deemed secure, in keeping with Agence France-Presse. The household is now one among 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 just isn’t an possibility,” Murtaza’s mom mentioned.

The strain has solely elevated since Murtaza’s photographs went viral. In 2016, the household was compelled 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 had been calling and saying, ‘You’ve grow to be wealthy, pay the cash you could have acquired from Messi or we are going to take your son,’” she mentioned. “At night time we’d typically see unknown males, watching and checking our home, after which the calls. Throughout the days, we would not dare let him outdoors house 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 enjoying soccer and misses the jersey he bought from Messi.

“I miss Messi,” he mentioned. “Once 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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