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Threats force Afghan boy, fan of Messi, to leave the country

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, Murtaza Ahmadi, a five-year-old Afghan Lionel Messi fan plays with a soccer ball during a photo opportunity as he wears a shirt signed by Messi, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The father of Ahmadi says the family was forced to leave Afghanistan amid constant telephone threats. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, Murtaza Ahmadi, a five-year-old Afghan Lionel Messi fan plays with a soccer ball during a photo opportunity as he wears a shirt signed by Messi, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The father of Ahmadi says the family was forced to leave Afghanistan amid constant telephone threats. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)  (The Associated Press)

The father of a 5-year-old Afghan boy who received autographed shirts from his soccer hero Lionel Messi says the family was forced to leave Afghanistan amid constant telephone threats.

Mohammad Arif Ahmadi — whose son grabbed headlines when he was photographed wearing a homemade Argentina shirt with No. 10 on the back — says they have moved to Pakistan and settled in the city of Quetta, hoping for a better life there.

Ahmadi spoke to The Associated Press over the telephone from Quetta on Tuesday.

He says he feared that his son, Murtaza Ahmadi, would be kidnapped after becoming an internet sensation after pictures of him wearing a Messi shirt made out of a striped plastic bag went viral.

The father says "life became a misery for us."