Murtaza Ahmadi sits beside his mother, Shafiqa, at his relative’s home in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP: Massoud Hossaini)
An Afghan boy who gained brief internet fame after being photographed in a shirt improvised from a plastic bag in the colours of his hero, Argentine football idol Lionel Messi, has been forced to flee his home after a Taliban attack.
“Murtaza became famous around the world and we are not able to walk free and go anywhere. Murtaza and my other children were not able to go to school,” his mother Shafiqa Ahmadi said from Kabul, where the family is staying.
“During the night suspected men were walking near our house and when the Taliban attacked our village we decided to leave.”
Photos of Murtaza Ahmadi wearing a plastic jersey honouring his idol Lionel Messi went viral. (Reuters: Omar Sobhani)
Ghazni, about two hours’ drive south of the capital Kabul, has been the scene of intense fighting this year.
The Taliban briefly overran Ghazni city in August and there has been heavy fighting in Jaghori, forcing thousands to flee.
“The security situation is not good and I am afraid to go outside,” Murtaza said.
“I want to become a footballer like Messi and I want to be able to go to school.”
Messi sent Ahmadi signed shirts to play in, but the publicity meant the boy and his family later had to move to Pakistan. (AP: Rahmat Gul, file photo)