When Murtaza Ahmady stepped off the plane at Hamad International Airport following his journey from Afghanistan, the six-year-old boy asked his father Mohammed a single question: ‘Where is the house of Messi?’
The football-crazy youngster had made the special journey to Qatar to meet his FC Barcelona hero. Images of him wearing a plastic bag of Argentinian national colours with Messi written on the back had gone viral on social media earlier this year. Subsequently, the ‘Albiceleste’ (white and sky blue) superstar had sent young Murtaza a signed jersey and football, and promised to meet him in person when the chance arose.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) was inspired by the story of the small boy and his dream, and decided to try and find him to give him the chance of meeting his hero.
On 13 December, that day arrived. Murtaza finally got the chance to hold his hero’s hand and got a giant hug from Messi on the morning of the ‘Match of Champions’ game between Barcelona and Al Ahli on Tuesday. As the Barcelona players walked past him on the way to a meeting room at the team hotel, Murtaza spotted Messi and reached out a hand, which the Argentina superstar held with a big smile.
A few moments later, Murtaza received a large embrace from his hero, who held him in his arms as the Barcelona team gathered behind him.
— Road to 2022 (@roadto2022) December 13, 2016
Speaking with sc.qa, Murtaza said after his meeting with Messi: “I’m very happy to have met my hero. It is a dream for me. I can’t wait to see Messi at the game, it will be the first time for me in the stadium.”
On Tuesday evening, Murtaza was selected as one of the player escorts to walk out onto the pitch with his idol, providing another memory of a lifetime for him on his trip to Doha.
An SC spokesperson said: “It was inspirational to meet Murtaza, and see him fulfil his dream. We were all kids once and had dreams, and in Qatar many of us still have them.
“Murtaza’s dream was to meet his hero. We are in a fortunate position here that we were able to bring them together. It’s about a kid and his dream. That’s it. That pretty much sums up the power of football.
"We were struck by his story from the beginning, and are delighted that we made the meeting happen. The story is symbolic of our belief that football can change lives for the better, and inspire youngsters from across our region and beyond."