ROME: Pope Francis has hailed fellow Argentine Diego Maradona as a “poet” on the pitch, but in addition acknowledged his frailty away from the game.
In a wide-ranging interview with Italian sports activities each day La Gazzetta dello Sport revealed on Saturday, Francis recalled his personal days enjoying soccer as a baby with a ball fabricated from rags and laid naked his scorn for doping cheats.
Francis is an enormous soccer fan and met Maradona, who died in November, a number of instances after turning into pope in 2013.
“On the sphere he was a poet, an incredible champion who gave pleasure to hundreds of thousands of individuals, in Argentina as in Naples. He was additionally a really 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 crew to victory within the World Cup.
Regardless of his love for the sport, Francis mentioned he was dwelling in Germany on the time and was not in a position to see the ultimate performed in Mexico in opposition to West Germany. He solely found the outcome the following day when a scholar wrote “Viva Argentina” on the blackboard throughout a language class.
“I personally keep in mind it as a victory of loneliness as a result of I had nobody to share the enjoyment 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 objective.
“However being a goalkeeper was an incredible college of life for me. The goalkeeper should be prepared to answer risks that may 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 wanted was a ball fabricated from rags to have enjoyable and carry out.”
Whereas extolling the virtues of sport, Francis took purpose at athletes who took efficiency enhancing medicine.
“Doping in sport shouldn’t be solely dishonest, it’s a shortcut that destroys dignity,” he mentioned. “Higher a clear defeat than a unclean victory. I want this for the entire world, not simply the world of sport.”