Bearing an uncanny resemblance to arguably the greatest footballer ever to grace a pitch is all fun and games until it gets you busted by the fuzz, as poor old Reza Parastesh had to find out the hard way.
Somehow, it was only a few months ago that the 25-year-old from Iran first realised his Lionel Messi doppelgänger potential. It was pointed out to Reza by his dad, who convinced him to pose for photos in a number 10 Barcelona jersey and sent them on to a sports website.
Let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t one of those squint-your-eyes-for-15-seconds-and-then-it’ll-maybe-click lookalikes. This guy, when he goes for it, really is the spit of the diminutive Argentinian wizard.
Since then, the Iranian Messi has been grooming himself to mirror his hero as much as possible, milking his newfound celebrity everywhere he goes. But it all came to a head last weekend. The AFP report that Parastesh was getting so much attention on the streets of Hamadan that the police had to intervene. Leo’s lookalike was taken to the station and had his car impounded in an effort to quell the chaos.
Don’t expect that to put him off too much, though. Parastesh is a committed doppelgänger. He’s fully-booked with interviews and even has modelling contract offers on the table. Selfies are just the beginning.
“Now people really see me as the Iranian Messi and want me to mimic everything he does,” he told the AFP. “When I show up somewhere, people are really shocked. I'm really happy that seeing me makes them happy and this happiness gives me a lot of energy.”