Pope Francis has hailed fellow Argentine Diego Maradona as a “poet” on the pitch but additionally acknowledged his frailty away from the game.
In a wide-ranging interview with Italian sports activities day by day La Gazzetta dello Sport revealed on Saturday, Francis recalled his personal days taking part in soccer as a baby with a ball made from rags and laid naked his scorn for doping cheats.
Francis is a giant soccer fan and met Maradona, who died in November, a number of occasions after turning into pope in 2013.
“On the field he was a poet, a great champion who gave joy to millions of people, in Argentina as in Naples. He was also a very fragile man,” Francis mentioned.
Maradona performed for Napoli from 1984 to 1991 successful two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup. In 1986, he captained the Argentine workforce to victory within the World Cup.
Despite his love for the sport, Francis mentioned he was residing in Germany on the time and was not capable of see the ultimate performed in Mexico towards West Germany. He solely found the end result the following day when a pupil wrote “Viva Argentina” on the blackboard throughout a language class.
“I personally remember it as a victory of loneliness because I had no one to share the joy of that sporting victory with,” he mentioned.
Francis mentioned he himself had no expertise for the game and was compelled by his companions to play in aim.
“But being a goalkeeper was a great school of life for me. The goalkeeper must be ready to respond to dangers that can come from all sides,” he mentioned.
Being poor, he recalled how he and his pals couldn’t afford a correct ball, so needed to improvise: “All we needed was a ball made of rags to have fun and perform.”
While extolling the virtues of sport, Francis took purpose at athletes who took performance-enhancing medicine.
“Doping in sport is not only cheating, it is a shortcut that destroys dignity,” he mentioned. “Better a clean defeat than a dirty victory. I wish this for the whole world, not just the world of sport.”