Divine intervention needed! Celtic meet the Pope after Lazio loss

Divine intervention needed! Celtic’s footballers meet the Pope, hours after losing in Rome to Lazio to set a British record of 15 games without a win in the Champions League

  • The poor record of Brendan Rodgers’ side continued with 2-2 defeat in Rome 
  • The Pope is an avowed football fan and supporter of boyhood side San Lorenzo
  • Pressure is easing on Man United boss Erik ten Hag: Listen to It’s All Kicking Off

Pope Francis welcomed Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic players to a private audience at the Vatican after their 2-0 defeat at Lazio on Tuesday evening. 

The Glasgow-based side endured a torrid time in Rome after being skewered late on by two last-gasp goals from captain Ciro Immobile just ten minutes from normal time. 

Defeat in their latest Champions League matchday hands the club the igniminious honour of setting a British record for the most Champions League games played without a win, defeat against Lazio their 15th. 

Celtic sit rock-bottom of Group E with just a solitary point to their name, claimed from their 2-2 home draw with Atletico.

Diego Simeone’s men had an easier job at the Metropolitano at the start of this month, beating the away side 6-0 on home soil. 

Brendan Rodgers handed Pope Francis a signed Celtic shirt emblazoned with his Papal name during the club’s audience with the Pontiff

The Pope gave the club and its players an audience following their Champions League defeat

The visitors were unable to claim any share of the points against Lazio during their 2-2 loss

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But despite missing out at the Stadio Olimpico, spirits will have been raised by an audience for the club at the Holy See, offered in part due to Celtic’s deep ties to Catholicism. 

The club’s founding by Irish immigrants to the Scottish city in 1887 was largely a fundraising effort from the community in aid of alleviating poverty in the deprived East End of Glasgow. 

And the Pontiff paid homage to the club’s origin story in his remarks on Wednesday morning, as he discussed the club’s ‘valued legacy’. 

‘I pray that you will continue to remember and bear witness to everything that makes sport genuinely good and noble,’ the bishop of Rome said. 

‘The most beautiful element is self-giving, gratuitiousness. The beauty of playing together. 

‘Please, never lose the amateur dimension of sport,’ the 86-year-old added, before wishing the team safely home to Scotland. 

The Argentine is thought to be an avowed football fan, and has followed his boyhood side San Lorenzo – who currently play in Argentina’s Primera Division – as well as his national side. 

But the Vicar of Christ may not have watched his home nation triumph in Qatar at the 2022 World Cup, as he has not watched television since 1990. 

Pope Francis said he made personal vow to God that has kept him from tuning in, with the last time he watched television thought to be June 15 of that year, just a week after Argentina lost the World Cup to Germany at Stadio Olimpico. 

The Prince of the Apostles previously received the shirt of his compatriot Lisandro Martinez from Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham (centre)

Pope Francis has received a number of shirts over the years including one from Argentina icon Diego Maradona, whom he described as ‘one of the greats as a player, but failed as a man’

On Tuesday night, Celtic and their supporters were subject to vile racist and sectarian abuse

At Celtic Park, the club’s Green Bridgade greeted Lazio ultras with a reference to their alleged far-right links

In a time-honoured tradition, Rodgers handed His Holiness a Celtic cross, and a signed shirt as a gift from the players, the latest of a number of jerseys Pope Francis has received. 

In April, he was given the jersey of his compatriot Lisandro Martinez by Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, and he has previously been gifted shirts from Carlos Teves, Lionel Messi, and Mario Balotelli. 

Tuesday evening’s match in Italian capital was marred by sectarian and racist abuse from Lazio’s ultras, who hung banners taunting the club’s Irish roots, and lobbed missiles and launched fireworks into the away end. 

During their away trip to Celtic Park at the start of their Champions League campaign, Lazio supporters were met an enormous flag that referenced the dark links of some ultra groups to fascism, which read ‘Antifascist Glasgow Celtic’ and showed the hanging of 20th century dictator Benito Mussolini. 


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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