Pope Francis is a well-known soccer fan. His favorite team is San Lorenzo de Almagro, one of the most important teams in Argentina, and the Pope still keeps his associate membership card for the team.
But what was unknown until now is that when he was a young boy the future Pope was a “patadura”--someone who is not very good at kicking the ball. He himself admitted this in a brief interview with the online sports news site TyC Sports of Argentina.
The interview didn’t last more than a minute. The reporter asked him several questions about his love of soccer, to which the Pope gladly responded.
“Did you play soccer?” the interviewer asked. The Pope replied: “Eh, I’m a ‘patadura,’ not so good at it.”
The interviewer asked him again, “But what did you play, defense or…”
“No, no, I was a patadura, not that good at it…nothing more,” the Pope said.
Not giving up, the interviewer said, “Did you play in the back?”
Pope Francis, smiling, explained: “yes, but I rather played basketball.”
Continuing on, the journalist asked, “And when you played soccer in the neighborhood, did you play in the backfield?”
To this the Pope responded affirmatively, adding “In the back.”
“And did you ever kick (your opponents)?” the reporter went on.
“I don’t remember,” Francis said, and then laughed.
The interview then reminisced about the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team of Pope Francis’ youth. Armando Farro, Rene Pontoni and Rinaldo Martino were three of its players now considered legendary in Argentina. They were nicknamed “the golden threesome” or “the golden trio” as well as “the three musketeers” because they are considered some of the best forwards in Argentine soccer ever to come from San Lorenzo.
Pope Francis recalled the names of past players: “Blanzina, Vanzini, Basso, Zubieta, Grecco and Colombo” as well as “Imbellone, Farro, Pontoni, Martino and Silva.”
“Did you go to see San Lorenzo play often?” the interviewer asked.
“In 1946, I went to all the games,” the Pope answered.
“All of 1946, both home and away matches?”
“No, no, no, only away games with Ferro (another soccer club), with that famous goal by Pontoni versus Ferro,” Francis explained.
On many occasions Pope Francis has demonstrated his affection for the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team. In Argentina, people still remember the Mass he celebrated for the 100th anniversary of the club in 2008, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
At that time, the future Pope presided at a Mass at the team’s facilities, where he used to come with his father when he was little.
This soccer team chose the colors blue and red from the blue and red mantle of the statue of the Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.
According to the sports newspaper Olé, during a 2011 homily, Cardinal Bergoglio said, “We don’t take on other colors, we ask the Virgin for hers. Never take away Mary, Help of Christians from the club because she is your mother.”
He noted that the San Lorenzo team’s first organizational meeting began at the San Antonio Oratory “under the protection of the Virgin.”