Lionel Messi spots six year old hoping to make it in Liverpool

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He's already been talent-spotted by Lionel Messi and Novak Djokovic, but one Liverpool boy has his eyes firmly on becoming a Red.

Arat Hosseini is football mad, but being stuck in a rented apartment in Sefton Park with his dad during lockdown has meant he can't spend time on the pitch.

Instead, his dad Mohammad has challenged Arat, six, to tackle a series of trickshots on makeshift obstacles including a mini goal balanced on dining chairs.

But it isn’t just Iranian-born Arat and his proud dad who get to enjoy him perfecting his skills – they’re being seen by the little lad’s 3.9million fans on Instagram.

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Arat with his dad Mohammad

And they include Lionel Messi and Novak Djokovic.

After watching his videos, filmed on 44-year-old Mohammad’s mobile phone, the pair both sent personal messages to Arat.

First Barcelona star Messi, the boy’s football hero, commented that he had "a lot of class" and described him as "awesome".

Now tennis world number one Djokovic has added his praise, saying the super-talented youngster has been an inspiration to his own son.

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Arat has many well-known fans

The Serbian winner of 17 Grand Slams sent Arat a video to let him know he was impressed with his home training sessions.

He said: “I’ve been watching your videos with my son Stefan who is one year younger than you and you’ve been an inspiration to my son.

"You are truly a phenomenal athlete for a six-year-old boy and probably the strongest six-year-old I’ve ever seen in my life. Amazing, you are very charismatic, very happy and very genuine, a very kind boy."

Since the two incredible endorsements, Arat’s social media following has shot up by more than a million and Mohammad says they’ve been a gift to encourage the youngster to become the best, and for the whole of Iran too.

Lionel Messi said Arat had 'a lot of class'

He said: "It wasn’t just amazing for my son, and for our family, it was amazing for his followers and the people of our country because they love him."

For Arat, just knowing that his idols have watched his videos is thrill enough. For his dad, it’s a huge step towards the goal he set before his second child was even born.

Because Arat and his dad, a former shop owner, van driver and handyman from the Mazandaran province, bordering Tehran, aren’t in Liverpool by chance.

Mohammad said: "Before Arat was even born I had decided to make him a star.

"It wasn’t about making him famous, it was about making a better life for my son. Back in Iran I had a very hard life, I worked three different jobs, and I didn’t want that for Arat. I was determined he wouldn’t have to live the same way as I did.”

When his son was six months old, Mohammad sold his businesses and his car to concentrate all his efforts and the family’s finances on his plan.

As a result, his boy was always a fast developer.

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Mohammad said: “He started walking when he was six months old, he could do a back flip when he was nine months old, and he could climb up wall bars when he was 18 months old.

“He was special, that was why we decided to start his Instagram page, @arat.gym, when he was 18 months old.

"People were interested in watching him progress, especially because we started with nothing, that was what they found fascinating.

"There are so many people in the world with lots of money and equipment but they don’t pay attention to their children’s talent. We did, and we put it first."

Arat’s fame in his own country grew as he entered and won TV talent competitions there, showcasing extraordinary gymnastic skills. His father reinvested the winnings into travelling further afield to gain a global audience.

They travelled to China twice to compete in TV talent shows, when Arat was aged two and three, then on to Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Every time, Arat won and the pair returned home with a prize fund.

Arat performing a trickshot

At five, with Arat showing an increasing aptitude for football, Mohammad started teaching him the basics at home, watching videos of players like Messi, Ronaldo and Zidane, before finding him a local coach.

Then in November last year the family took the hardest decision of all – for Mohammad and Arat to move to England, leaving his mother Fatemeh, 38, and sister Aida, an 18-year-old architecture student, back in Iran.

Mohammad said: "The main reason was Arat’s education because if he wants to be a superstar then he has to speak English very well and to understand and see for himself how life is in other countries.

“It was very difficult for Arat to be away from his mother, even though they speak every day on the phone, but myself and my wife promised ourselves that we would withstand all the many sacrifices involved.”

They applied to independent schools which took international students and Arat was accepted to Belvedere Prep. He also joined a local junior football team, where he was scouted by Liverpool FC Academy.

Before lockdown, he was training twice a week at the academy, playing one match a week, and having one-to-one training a further two days with Liverpool-based Kickerz Coaching, run by ex-professional footballers Andrai Jones and Shaun Mangan.

Since the restrictions came in, he trains at home three to four hours every day in their lounge.

Mohammad is aware of the need to be as much protector as promoter. “I want Arat to succeed, but to be happy too.”

With his social following is growing daily, his live stories can be watched by more than 50,000 people from around the world. Much the same, his dad points out, as a full house at Anfield.

Mohammad: "But it takes time to become the best player in the world so we have to be patient.

“Now there are two dreams – for Arat to become the biggest footballer player and for him to play in the World Cup when he is 15 which will make him the youngest player ever. Iran needs to qualify for the finals first, but with Arat, they will.”

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