Pope entertains Messi, Buffon and co ahead of international friendly
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Pope entertains Messi, Buffon and co ahead of international friendly

 
Buffon presents Pope Francis with a signed football
 
Pope Francis has met the football teams of both Italy and Argentina ahead of a friendly match which is to be played in his honour.
 
The Pope met the world’s top player Lionel Messi of Barcelona and later Messi said: “Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life….We have to excel on and off the field.”
 
Pope Francis asked the players to take responsibility for their status as role models for many millions of people, both young and old, across the world, and he invited the players to pray for him so that “I too, on the ‘field’ where God has put me, can play an honest and courageous game for the good of all.”
 
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon presented the pope with a signed ball and said that the pope’s request for the prayers of the players was another sign of his “humility and humanity.”  Buffon continued: “With a pope like this, it’s easier to be better.  He shows us the way, he warms hearts, he moves people’s souls.”
 
Julio Umberto Grondona, president of the Argentine soccer association said that the audience with Pope Francis had been “both unforgettable and moving.”
 
The friendly match will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Rome this Wednesday night at 7.45pm BST.
 

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