Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Mesut Ozil and the power of social media bring heartwarming cheer to young Nairobi cattle herder

The boy had scrawled the Arsenal star's name on his shirt and the German responded with new kit

The boys were ecstatic to receive a parcel from Mesut Ozil. Courtesy @MesutOzil1088 / Twitter
The boys were ecstatic to receive a parcel from Mesut Ozil. Courtesy @MesutOzil1088 / Twitter

Mesut Ozil may not have been having much of an influence on the pitch for Arsenal this season, but he has certainly been making a difference off it.

If you look at the expression on the faces of these young boys in Nairobi, it is a reminder that the simple things in life can have such a profound effect.

How was Ozil involved?

It all started back in December when Kenyan journalist Eric Njiru saw a boy, Lawrence, grazing cattle in the streets of Nairobi. He spoke to the boy about football as he was wearing a makeshift Arsenal shirt with Ozil's name and number written on the back in pen rather than the official lettering.

Njiru tweeted an image of the boy and said he hoped it would one day reach the Premier League star so he could send some official merchandise. His message was retweeted nearly 10,000 times.

Fast forward three months and the dreams of the boy and his friends have come true after they the Arsenal player saw the request and responded by sending a parcel containing signed shirts and boots.

Then what happened?

Having seen that the parcel successfully made it to Kenya and the cheer it brought to the youngsters, Ozil took to social media to tell his 23 million followers that the original image of Lawrence "touched him so much" and added ... "look at Lawrence now – it's so heartwarming to see him and his brothers happy".

Didn't we see this kind of thing with Lionel Messi?

Yes, on that occasion it involved six-year-old Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi, who became famous when a picture of him wearing a homemade Argentina shirt made from a blue and white plastic bag with "Messi 10" written on the back.

After the image went viral, he was invited to meet Messi and accompanied him on to the field in Qatar before a friendly match between Barcelona and Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in Doha.

However, there was a terrible twist to this tale when the family revealed in December that the Taliban were looking for him and they family were living in fear.

"[They] said if they capture him, they will cut him into pieces," Shafiqa, Murtaza’s mother, told AFP.

Updated: March 12, 2019 03:13 PM

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