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Family Of Afghan Boy With Messi-Signed Soccer Jerseys Flees To Pakistan

The family of a 5-year-old Afghan boy who received autographed jerseys from his soccer hero Lionel Messi has been forced to leave Afghanistan because of constant telephone threats.

Relatives of Murtaza Ahmadi, who attracted international media coverage after being photographed wearing a homemade Argentinian soccer jersey with Messi's number, said the family moved to Pakistan in April because they were afraid the boy would be kidnapped.

They said the family received threatening phone calls from what appeared to be an organized criminal gang.

Messi sent the boy two signed jerseys and a soccer ball in February after he saw the photograph of Ahmadi wearing the jersey that he had fashioned from a plastic bag.

With reporting by AFP and dpa