AMAZING PHOTOS – Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli Meet Pope Francis


Two big-name Argentines have had a VIP meeting at the Vatican – Pope Francis and Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
Ahead of Argentina’s friendly against Italy in Rome on Wednesday night players from both sides enjoyed a private audience with the first Latin American-born pontiff in the Apostolic Palace.

The Hand of God: Messi and Italy captain Gigi Buffon (left) meet the Pope on Tuesday
All smiles: Balotelli and the Pope share a joke
Friendly rivalry: Italy take on Argentina on Wednesday night
Maverick Azzurri striker Mario Balotelli – who has withdrawn from the friendly with a knee injury – was present as Francis told the players to remember they are role models on and off the field ‘for better or worse.’ It remains to be seen whether the former Manchester City man will heed that advice.
Francis also asked for the players’ prayers for himself ‘on the playing field God put me on’ and lamented that sport has become big business.


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