International

Things get 'Messi' for Iranian lookalike

2017-05-08 17:52
Reza Parastesh (AFP)

Tehran - Iranian student Reza Parastesh looks so much like his sporting hero Lionel Messi that it almost landed him in jail for disrupting public order this week.

So many people came out to take selfies with Parastesh in the western city of Hamedan over the weekend that police rushed him into a station and impounded his car to stop the chaos and clear traffic.

The resemblance is so uncanny that Eurosport UK reportedly used his photo by accident on Twitter recently when talking about the real Messi.

The furore began a few months ago when Parastesh's football-mad father pressured the 25-year-old into posing in a number 10 Barcelona jersey and sending the pictures to a sports website.

"I sent them one night and by the morning they had called me and said I should come in quickly for an interview," he told AFP.

Despite his early reluctance, Parastesh soon grew into his new role, cutting his hair like Messi and often donning the Barca jersey when he goes out.

It has paid off - he is fully booked with media interviews and has even landed modelling contracts.

"Now people really see me as the Iranian Messi and want me to mimic everything he does. When I show up somewhere, people are really shocked," he said.

Iranians are obsessed with football, and Parastesh finds himself constantly besieged by fans looking for a selfie.

"I'm really happy that seeing me makes them happy and this happiness gives me a lot of energy," he added.

Parastesh loves football but has never played professionally, though he is working on some tricks so he can better play the role.

He remembers very well the last game between Iran and Argentina during World Cup 2014, when Messi's 91st-minute goal robbed the Islamic republic of a place in the last 16.

Reza's dad was furious.

"After the game, my dad called me and said don't come back home tonight... why did you score a goal against Iran? I said: But that wasn't me!" Parastesh said, laughing.

His goal now is to meet his hero in Barcelona, and maybe even land a job as his understudy.

"Being the best player in footballing history, he definitely has more work than he can handle. I could be his representative when he is too busy," he said.

Read more on:    lionel messi  |  soccer

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live scoring

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
Vote

After Stuart Baxter stepped down as Bafana Bafana head coach, who would you like to see take over?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.