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Lionel Messi sends surprise gift to five-year-old Afghan fan

Kabul: Argentine football star Lionel Messi has sent not one, but two jerseys to the five-year-old Afghan boy who became an Internet sensation last month when he was pictured wearing a plastic bag with "Messi" scrawled on it.

Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi shows his jersey sent to him by Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP
Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi shows his jersey sent to him by Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP

Murtaza Ahmadi travelled with his family from eastern Ghazni province to Kabul to receive the gifts sent by Messi through UNICEF, where he is a goodwill ambassador. "Murtaza couldn't stop smiling. He kept repeating: I love Messi," said UNICEF Afghanistan spokesman Denise Shepherd-Johnson.

Messi autographed the jerseys, writing "With much love" in Spanish on them, and added a football to the treasure trove, UNICEF said.

Purchasing a Messi jersey was beyond the means of Murtaza's poor family, members of the persecuted ethnic Hazara minority living in volatile Ghazni, near Kabul.

His elder brother Homayoun, 15, improvised the blue-and-white-striped plastic shirt with Messi's name scrawled in black marker, and posted the photos of Murtaza wearing it on Facebook in mid-January.

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