AFGHANISTAN. Herat. 32-year-old Afghan teacher and tailor, Abdul-Karim Sarwari, received a lot of international attention recently after his photo was clicked and posted on Facebook. He is a carbon copy of the famous footballer, Lionel Messi. Sarwari has been known in his community for many years as “The Afghan Messi.”
How he shot in fame
“I was at a wedding party when one of my friends took my photo and posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Messi attended our party tonight. Soon after, the photo got many likes, and suddenly many journalists from all over the world were seeking me for an interview. I shot in fame instantly. Although, prior to this date, my students already called me ‘Teacher Messi` in school,” Sarwari said in an interview with Transcontinental Times.
Ever since Sarwari has become a popular face in Afghanistan, particularly in Herat, the fame has gained him many benefits: some shop owners sell him their goods at a lower price, and people where he plays football often ask for selfies with him. Even though he receives such benefits, he is not so happy with his fame. “I repeatedly stated in all of my interviews about my ultimate dream of meeting with Messi but nothing happened,” he said. “My big dream is to meet Messi one day.”
Passion for Barcelona
Sarwari said, “I watch the replays of Barcelona football matches in my cloth-making shop after watching them at home with [my] brothers.”
In recent years, world celebrities’ doppelgangers have emerged in great numbers in Afghanistan: Afghan Bruce Lee, Afghan Che Guerrero, Afghan Brad Pitt. It seems that a nation with no celebrities of its own must be content to celebrate its famous look-alikes.