Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has described his meeting with the Pope as a “life achievement”.
Rodgers was part of a delegation of Celtic coaches, players and directors who were granted a private audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, following their Champions League defeat by Lazio in Rome the previous night.
Rodgers said: “It was obviously a real privilege for us all to have the invitation to go there.
“It was a really humbling experience and it felt like a life achievement to meet him. It was so nice, everyone that came out of the room that morning felt really privileged and really honoured.”
Pope Francis told the Celtic delegation that while winning was always preferred, it was not the most important aspect.
Quoted on the Vatican website, he added: “More vital is the example you give when winning or losing, both on and off the field. An example that embodies the virtues of courage, perseverance, generosity and respect for the God-given dignity of others.
“Indeed, Celtic Football Club was founded in 1887 with the specific goal of alleviating poverty in the city of Glasgow. This was truly a charitable undertaking for the sake of the most needy of our brothers and sisters.
“Yet, how much the world of football has changed since then. In particular, the financial footprint of the ‘beautiful game’ has greatly increased, and at times can risk making football only attractive for reasons of monetary profit.
“The valued legacy of your club, then, places a heavy responsibility upon your shoulders, reminding you to be good role models, especially for young people.”
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