The Afghan boy who wore a plastic bag as a Lionel Messi jersey was forced into exile amid threats from the Taliban, reports the Associated Press.
Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi went viral on the internet for wearing the homemade soccer jersey in January. He recently left Afghanistan with his family for Pakistan when phone calls and a menacing letter posed a threat to their safety.
“Life became a misery for us,” said the boy’s father, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi.
The elder Ahmadi says he uprooted his life to save the lives of his family members.
“I sold all my belongings and brought my family out of Afghanistan to save my son’s life as well as the lives of the rest of the family,” he said.
The young fan received an autographed Barcelona jersey, an Argentina national team jersey and a signed soccer ball from his hero in February.