RONALDINHO, MARADONA, TOTTI OTHER FORMER STARS MEET ON THE PITCH FOR POPE FRANCIS CHARITY GAME.
Ronaldinho and Francesco Totti were among the star names to join Diego Maradona in a charity match in Rome on Wednesday evening.
The ‘United for Peace’ game, organised by Pope Francis, took place at the Stadio Olimpico, its importance underlined by the huge number of former players who made the effort to attend the match.
Former Argentina star Maradona was unsurprisingly the headline act, with local hero Totti and former Barcelona and Brazil man Ronaldinho also making the headlines.
And Maradona showed his fiery temper is still in tact as he clashed with countryman Juan Sebastian Veron, a player he once coached, during the charity match.
Hernan Crespo, Cafu, Gianluca Zambrotta, Roberto Carlos, Veron, Robert Pires and Fabio Capello were also all in attendance, the cast list resembling a who’s who of football from down the years.
The match, while a bit of fun for all involved, had a serious meaning after Pope Francis had stepped in to organise the event.
It came just a few days after the Vatican helped host an international congress on sports and faith, the subsequent 90 minutes organised to try and help raise funds for people who have been suffering since an earthquake hit central Italy on August 24.
Maradona’s long association with Italian football and the presence of Roma legend Totti on home soil unsurprisingly left the pair as the most popular players on show.
Maradona, who was even targeted by a pitch invader at one point, said before the game: ‘The Pope invited me. He is a Pontiff who is loved by everyone.
‘He does a good job. I went away from the church, but he was the one who made me have faith again. We need peace nowadays, worldwide.
‘We do not want violence nor so many innocent children to die. I’m afraid for my children. I would like to help more than I already do.
‘Therefore I will enter the field on Wednesday and will play like in the 90s
Football is a human phenomenon and special,’ Pope Francis was quoted as saying by the Catholic Register before kick-off.
‘A sports event is a highly symbolic act that helps show it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace in which believers of diverse religions conserve their own identity while living in mutual respect.’
The match saw some of football’s biggest names divide into a La Liga XI against a Rest of the World XI in an encounter screened live on Italian television. The La Liga side eventually came out on top 4-3, with Totti’s goal in particular a special moment.
‘We are convinced that sport can bring peace. Many champions are involved in this game to convey all over the world this message of peace, joy, and happiness,’ said Italian Sports Centre president Vittorio Bosio.
culled from dailymail.co.uk