Boy with homemade jersey gets real one from athlete

In this provided by UNICEF, Murtaza Ahmadi, an Afghan Lionel Messi fan, shows a donated and signed shirt by Messi, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Mahdy Mehraeen/UNICEF via AP)

MADRID (AP) — UNICEF says soccer star Lionel Messi has sent signed shirts to the Afghan boy who was pictured wearing a homemade Argentina shirt with the No. 10 on the back.

UNICEF said Thursday that 5-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi has received signed Barcelona and Argentina shirts from Messi. It said a soccer ball was also delivered to the boy at UNICEF’S office in Kabul.

Many soccer fans circulated a photo of little Murtaza, who wore a plastic bag with Messi’s name and number on the back.

Messi is Argentinian and plays for Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona.

Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, the father of the boy said Friday they want to thank Messi in person.

Afghan soccer federation spokesman Ali Kazimi says they have prepared passports for the boy, his father and uncle to travel to Spain. He says they are waiting for a response about a meeting.

The boy was photographed on Thursday wearing Messi’s signed Argentina shirt.

Messi is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Also Thursday, Barcelona extended its partnership with UNICEF until 2020, increasing its annual donation to 2 million euros ($2.2 million) from 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million). provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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