“Continued insurgency, security threats and Taliban onslaught on Jaghori district have deprived my son, ‘little Messi’ from going to school and from playing on ground to realize his dream to get world fame like his real-life hero, the football star Lionel Messi,” whispered Shafiqa Ahmadi, mother of Afghanistan’s “little Messi.”

Football fan Murtaza Ahmadi, now seven years old, became well known after photos of him dressed in a makeshift Lionel Messi’s jersey made from a plastic bag went viral on the Internet early 2016.

He has since been called “little Messi.”

In December 2016 in Qatar, Ahmadi met his idol Lionel Messi, who appreciated his courage to become a football star in the future. Messi also sent his T-shirt and a football via UNICEF to Ahmadi.

However, the unabated insurgency and security concerns in the country have not spared Ahmadi, as both the outlaws and the armed militants began threatening him to either satisfy them by greasing their hands or face the music.

“My ‘little Messi’ has failed to attend school or continue practicing football over the past nearly two years since meeting Lionel Messi and becoming famous at home, due to security threats,” his mother told Xinhua recently.

Taliban attacks on Jaghori district of Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province early November forced hundreds of thousands of families to flee, including Ahmadi’s family, who migrated to the capital Kabul.

“After Taliban offensive in Jaghori, I along with all my family members including Murtaza Ahmadi or the little Messi left our house for Kabul and after a few days of traveling on muddy and dusty roads reached Kabul city to escape the war,” said Ahmadi’s mother.

It is difficult for the displaced family to bear the 5,000-afghani (about 67 U.S. dollars) house rent in a slum area, she said.

Recalling the Taliban attack, Ahmadi said they killed many people in Jaghori district and forced many families to leave their houses.

“Although the war has forced me to leave my village, I haven’t given up my hope to become a football star. I don’t like to return to my village and want to live in a place where my real life hero, Lionel Messi lives,” said “little Messi.”

Indeed dreaming is safe, but living a dream sometimes does cost a price that most can not afford to pay.