Monday 20 November 2017

Being Lionel Messi's doppelganger almost left Iranian student in prison

Reza Parastesh and Leo Messi - or should that be Leo Messi and Reza Parastesh? CREDIT: AFP
Reza Parastesh and Leo Messi - or should that be Leo Messi and Reza Parastesh? CREDIT: AFP

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.

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.

"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.

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