Reza Parastesh looks so much like his sporting hero Lionel Messi that it almost landed him in jail for disrupting public order in the western Iranian city of Hamedan this week.
So many people came out to take selfies with student Parastesh 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.