This is no longer a cute story.
Images of Murtaza Ahmadi, 5, went viral this year after he donned an Argentina national team jersey with superstar Lionel Messi's name that he made from a plastic bag. The pictures were so cute that Messi himself sent the Afghan boy real jerseys with his autograph on them.
But those jerseys may have been more trouble than they’re worth—because of them, Murtaza and his whole family have had to leave Afghanistan.
“A few days ago I got a call from a local gangster,” Murtaza’s father, Arif Ahmadi, explained to the BBC. “He thought that since my son had received these T-shirts from Messi that maybe he also got money and asked for his share.”
When the gangster started threatening to kidnap Murtaza, the family decided it was time to go. They’ve now moved to Pakistan, where all eight of them are living in a crammed room.
But Murtaza hasn’t held it against his hero.
“Messi, you know how much I like you. Now I want you to invite me so I can come and meet you,” he told his idol through the BBC.