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Lionel Messi receives signed jersey from Pope

By News Desk, with agency report

Football superstar, Lionel Messi, has received a shirt signed by fellow Argentine soccer fanatic, Pope Francis, for his brilliant style of play and consistency.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward, who returned to action yesterday after a bout of coronavirus pandemic, had given the pontiff a signed piece of kit in October, via French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

Confirming the development on Monday, the Vatican’s sports association said that in an unusual shirt swap, the yellow jersey of the Athletica Vaticana — the tiny state’s multi-sport team — was then given to Messi by French bishop Emmanuel Gobilliard.

The association noted that the pope’s action was taken following his relationship with the Vatican, his spirituality and his earlier gesture toward the church’s head.

“A man of faith, Messi told me how important this step was for him. We prayed together,” Gobilliard, who will be the Holy See’s delegate to the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, wrote on his social media page.

The scrawled signature in black pen by the 85-year old head of the Roman Catholic church was a “blessing” for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Athletica Vaticana also said on its social media page.

Francis — a huge fan of the Buenos Aires team, San Lorenzo — first met Messi in 2013, shortly after being elected pope.

The pontiff shared memories last year of playing football as a child in the streets with makeshift balls, which he said sufficed to bring him and his childhood friends pleasure.

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