Brendan Rodgers Presents the Pope with a Celtic Shirt during Vatican Visit

Brendan Rodgers presented Pope Francis with a signed Celtic shirt during a visit to the Vatican after the squad were granted an audience with the pontiff following their Champions League match against Lazio in Rome. Two late Ciro Immobile goals handed Lazio a 2-0 victory on Tuesday evening, leaving Celtic rooted to the bottom of Group E with just one point. However, 24 hours later, the Bhoys were welcomed to the Vatican. Hoops boss Rodgers gave the Pope a Celtic jersey signed by the squad and emblazoned with ‘Francis’ on the back, while the club also gifted him a Celtic cross. Pope Francis commiserated with the team over their defeat but urged them to focus on the bigger things in life. Retain an “amateur spirit,” he told them, reminding them that victory is not the sole goal and focusing instead on the example they give on and off the field. Rodgers was joined on the visit by Callum McGregor, Liam Scales, Stephen Welsh, Mikey Johnston, Anthony Ralston, Paulo Bernardo, and Cameron Carter-Vickers, as well as Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell. Pope Francis has previously met football figures such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, while one of his predecessors – John Paul II – famously welcomed the Ireland men’s squad when they played their first World Cup in Italy in 1990. The pontiff also urged the squad to retain their “amateur spirit” even amid the huge money swirling around the sport in the modern day. He emphasized the beauty of playing together and maintaining the amateur spirit, recognizing that victory is not the only goal.

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