I may have played football with the new pope, says Real Madrid legend Di Stefano

Former Argentina and Spain great Alfredo Di Stefano thinks he may have played football against newly elected Pope Francis when the two were children kicking balls around in the streets of Buenos Aires.



Writing in his regular column in Spanish sports daily Marca, Di Stefano said he grew up in the same neighborhood as fellow Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and that his compatriot’s elevation to the papacy “has filled me with great joy.”



While the 86-year-old Real Madrid legend is 10 years older than Francis, he recalled childhood scenes where most of the kids in the neighborhood used to play free-for-all football until past sunset.



“Pope Francis and I went to the same school in Buenos Aires,” he said. “He lived in a church two blocks from my family’s house, where my sister Norma still resides.”



Di Stefano said most children in his neighborhood were keen players and that it was likely a young Bergoglio would have been among them.



“In our neighborhood we used to hold major football sessions that went on until it got dark, with everyone playing against each other,” he said. “Maybe the pope was one of the guys I played football with in the street.”



Di Stefano said he was already a big enough talent for most local children to know who he was, and that it was likely the pope would have remembered if they played together.



“At that time I was the famous one because from a very young age I belonged to River Plate’s youth team, everybody knew me,” Di Stefano said.



Di Stefano went on to become arguably the best player of his generation, starring for Real Madrid between 1953-64 and leading the club to five straight European Cups. He switched nationality to represent Spain, and later moved back and forth between Spanish and Argentine clubs during his coaching career.



Di Stefano is an honorary president of Madrid, and his interest in football meant he missed the moment when his compatriot emerged as the new pope.



“I must confess that while everyone else watched the white smoke live, I saw it later,” he wrote. “I was, as always, watching a football game.”

Read more :
  • Nigeria snatch draw, Eto’o bags brace in World Cup qualifiers
    African champions Nigeria snatched a dramatic draw and there were vital wins for Burkina Faso, Cameroon and South Africa on Saturday in World Cup qualifiers. Nnamdi Oduamadi, who was not p...
  • UEFA Champions League: Carlo Ancelotti confident of Barcelona upset
    Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is relishing the challenge of facing Champions League favourites Barcelona in the quarter-finals and believes his expensively assembled side are ca...
  • Makarova eager to face rampant Sharapova
    MELBOURNE - Russian Ekaterina Makarova is eager to meet Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday even though her compatriot has been one of the dominant women...
  • Father of Gary and Phil Neville arrested
    The father of former England footballers Gary and Phil Neville has been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, police sources told Britain's Press Association on Wednesday. Neville Nev...
  • Robin Soderling behind schedule in comeback
    Robin Soderling has revealed that he is behind schedule in his comeback from glandular fever. The Swede, who has not played since July due to the illness, had hoped to be back this month, ...
  • Nolte finishes third in Malaysia chess meet
    Filipino International Master (IM) Rolando Nolte finished third overall in the DYTM Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Invitational Kuala Lumpur Masters 2013 held at the Swiss Inn in Malaysia. Nolte spli...
  • Ocampo seeks repeat at ICTSI Rancho
    Carl Santos-Ocampo Carl Santos-Ocampo returns to the scene of his breakthrough pro victory, hopeful of duplicating his feat but against a field toughened up by the presence of a number of ...
  • Spurs to go for broke in Game 6
    Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs reacts in tahe fourth quarter while taking on the Miami Heat during Game Five of the 2013 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Te...