When 2016 kicked off, a young Afghan boy captured the internet’s heart with one picture. For many, the photo of 6-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi wearing a Lionel Messi jersey made out of a plastic bag struck a chord. After an internet-wide search party, the United Nations Children Fund gave him autographed Messi gear because his family couldn’t afford to buy him any. And though Ahmadi loved his new gifts – even saying “I love Messi, and my shirt says Messi loves me” – the two hadn’t met due to the Argentine national’s busy schedule.
But on Tuesday, little Murtaza finally came face-to-face with his hero. Barcelona headed to Doha, Qatar this week to face off against Al Ahli in a friendly. According to Now This, the young boy and his family were forced to flee Pakistan because the Taliban threatened them for allowing Murtaza to play sports. They ended up in Qatar, which finally made the meeting between the two possible. Murtaza was a mascot (children who accompany the players for the team walkout) for today’s game, and after waiting so long to meet Messi, he didn’t want to leave the futbolista’s side – until he absolutely had to.
Check out the rest of the cute encounter below: