Pope Francis sends autographed jersey for Lionel Messi

Pope Francis is known to be a football fan
Pope Francis is known to be a football fan / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Argentina icon, Lionel Messi is widely considered to be the greatest player in the history of the sport, with the striker winning numerous professional and individual honours during his career so far and is one most popular athletes in the world.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis is also understood to be big fan of the record seven-time Ballon d'Or award winner and on Wednesday signed a jersey of the Athletica Vaticana – the Vatican’s multi-sport team.

The jersey will be handed over personally by Bishop Emmanuel Gobillard, Auxiliary Bishop of Lyon, France, to Lionel Messi and according to L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Holy See, this dedication is a “blessing” addressed to Lionel Messi, his Argentine compatriot. The tunic will be given to the six-time gold ball through the auxiliary bishop of Lyon.

The Osservatore Romano notes that through this unusual initiative, “the exchange of shirts between the Pontiff and the Argentine star is therefore complete.” Last October, French Prime Minister Jean Castex gave Pope Francis an autographed shirt from the Paris Saint-Germain player.

Messi for his part is currently recovering after testing positive for COVID-19, with the star expected to return back to action when PSG host Brest in the Ligue 1 on Saturday, 15 January.