Pope Francis, a soccer fan like most Argentines, was all smiles when Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham presented him with a Manchester United shirt signed by his compatriot Lisandro Martinez during a visit to the Vatican on Thursday.

The Pope received the Argentina and United defender’s glass-framed number six jersey with the message “Your holiness, with much love, Licha”, United said on their website, in a private audience with a delegation of Manchester’s religious leaders.

“I think @Pontifex particularly appreciated this gift, presented by @AndyBurnhamGM and the Lord Mayor,” tweeted British Ambassador to the Holy See Chris Trott.

Pope Francis, who was also presented with a Manchester City shirt, was given a signed Lionel Messi shirt by then French Prime Minister Jean Castex in 2021.

World Cup winner Martinez suffered a foot injury last week and will miss the rest of the season.


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