1. In January, a photo of a small boy wearing a blue and white plastic bag with “Messi” and “10” written on the back sparked a global search.
The image was first shared by a Barcelona fan Robin Hirori, who had seen the image on his Facebook feed, shared it on Twitter, and then thought nothing more of it.
2. People were so touched by the image, and the boy’s ingenuity, that there was a campaign to find him and give him a real Lionel Messi shirt.
3. In February, BuzzFeed News was put in contact with a family in Afghanistan who claimed to be relatives of the boy. They sent an image of the “Messi kid” holding a piece of paper with this reporter’s name, to prove he was the child in the original image.
The boy’s name is Murtaza Ahmadi, and he is known in his village as “Messi’s biggest fan”, there is even a rival child in the village who is known as “Ronaldo’s biggest fan”, they are often seen playing football together in the streets.
4. Subsequently, the Afghan FA have been in contact with Messi’s club, Barcelona, and are arranging for the child to fly to Spain and meet his idol, but in the meantime, UNICEF and Messi have sent Murtaza a signed shirt.
Messi also donated a number of shirts for Murtaza’s brothers and sisters.
Upon receiving his present, Murtaza said, “I love Messi, and my shirt says Messi loves me.”