It’s always heartwarming to see your favourite sportstars show off their humanitarian side, whether it be David Beckham playing soccer with Nepalese kids, or Sonny Bill Williams giving his medal to a young fan in the crowd. Argentine football star Lionel Messi is the latest in the ranks of top blokes, after sending a signed jersey to a 5-year-old Afghan boy.
Murtaza Ahmadi received the gift from Messi via UNICEF after becoming an internet sensation when he was captured playing soccer in a pretend plastic bag jersey with ‘Messi’ written on it in marker pen.
“Murtaza couldn’t stop smiling. He kept repeating: I love Messi,” said UNICEF Afghanistan spokeswoman Denise Shepherd-Johnson.
Messi is currently in talks with the Afghan Football Federation to try and arrange a meeting with Murtaza, whose poor family are members of the persecuted ethnic Hazara minority living in volatile Ghazni, near Kabul.
Apparently, football and cricket are the two most popular sports in war-ravaged Afghanistan, but sports were rarely played under Taliban rule, and Kabul’s football stadium was a notorious venue for executions, stonings and mutilations.
So from a big Messi to a little Messi, it’s a pretty big deal.
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