Lionel Messi gets around a lot in between Barcelona matches, but if he ever needs a stand-in, one Iranian man might be up to the task. Reza Parastesh, a 25-year-old living in the city of fHamaden, has been posing as the Argentinian star for the last year, when his father made him pose in a Barcelona jersey after noticing how much he looked like Messi.
Since he first realized that he looked like the Argentine, Parastesh has begun to style his hair and grow his beard out in whatever style Messi happens to have it at the time. His resemblance is so uncanny that he has caused public disorder in the Iranian capital, with crowds mobbing him for photos, believing him to actually be Messi.
“Now people really see me as the Iranian Messi and want me to mimic everything he does,” Parastesh told the AFP. “When I show up somewhere, people are really shocked.” To further play the role of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, he has also been practicing his soccer skills, although it’s likely that the resemblance will not extend to his moves on a soccer field. The commotion got so out of control, in fact, that police recently took him into custody–and impounded his car–in order to calm the crowds.
According to the BCC, Parastesh has lined up a handful of talk show appearances, and he even has multiple modeling contracts on the table.